The coordinator of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Patrick Pascal has revealed that coordinating the football national senior team is not an easy task. The Bauchi State FA chairman also tells @vjwale that the new crop of players are ready to deliver at the world’s biggest stage.
What are the duties of the Nigeria Super Eagles coordinator?
The functions of the super Eagles coordinator on paper looks easy but is anything but that, because you need to work hundred per cent with the coach, the players, officials and the backroom staffs.
Also his job also entails coordinating the activities of the team for the day while the coach will draw out the programs of the day which means that you have to be the first to wake up and be the last to sleep, so if there is any emergency information in the camp, I have to keep everyone abreast on new development.
If the team is travelling you have to make sure that no one is left behind .
You also have to make sure that there is no gap between the coach and the players in term of communication and the other officials.
The work is very tedious but if you manage yourself and you are flexible and also able to relate with the players even when they are tired to carry out the instructions from the coach to the latter.
I started as the coordinator of the national team in 2014 when late Stephen Keshi was the coach before then I was in the technical committee of the Nigeria football federation. and I have worked with six super eagles coaches which are Samson Siasia, Daniel Amokachi, Sunday Oliseh and now Gernot Rohr, if you don’t have a hard working persona you cannot work with these coaches without skirmishes.
What are the challenges you face being the Super Eagles coordinator?
One of the major challenges I face being the Super Eagles coordinator is corralling visitors when the team is in camp. Visitors are seen coming to see the players at the wrong time when they are training or having their meal, it’s difficult to control the visitors due to the laid down rule in the camp.
Some visitors will want to see the players after their training and my work is to make sure the players rest which could pose difficult in said circumstances.
However, we also map out time for them to visit with their families ,but we don’t allow them to take any of their families member to their rooms.
Well efforts to maintain adequate balance has been successful seeing that we are working with very professional people, they respect me knowing I am an ex-international and I also do the same.
Can we compare the present Super Eagles’ squad to the likes of the 1990s team?
Each of the teams have their peculiarities and strengths but one notable thing is the discipline shown by this team despite being more financially solvent than the 1990s team .
So when you have too much money and you can do whatever you want and you are still disciplined and still take instructions then you know such players are professional.
But when you talk about our own time how many players had enough money then? The truth is that some of the players then used the national team to build themselves as it served as a very big platform for talent identification which is very good when you received the national call up.
Take for instance the English premier league you need 70 per cent appearance playing for the country national team before you can be able to break into the first team.
The level of professionalism exhibited by the team 1990s has indeed rubbed off on the current team as seen whenever they are being invited to camp.
Can Nigerians bank on the present crop of players that played against Ukraine to deliver the fourth title of the nation’s cup and go beyond the second round of the World Cup?
With the absence of John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike in the national team you will agree with me that we have good corp of players who are very young, which means they can play together up to a decade for the national team.
We also have few players who played in the World Cup and they are still in the team which shows that the era of age cheat is gone with the coming of younger players in the team.
Looking at Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze and Kelechi Iheanacho products of the junior World Cup who are also in the national team and their performances have been impressive which is good for Nigeria.
We are blessed with enough talent and we have others in U23 and I tell you the younger players have a brighter future and Nigeria will be happy with their performance.
We should continue to support them and pray for them to be injury free, which is why the coach is always advising them to put in their best every time because if they fail to do the needful there are millions of players who are ready to take their place.
We have come to a stage where the players know that once injured and don’t take care, there will be someone to take your position .Which was proven when we went to Ukraine hence most of the regular players and the younger ones have proved themselves which means it no longer business as usual.
Nigerians like good football, so if the national team is not playing well, they will be criticized but now I believe they are beginning to see a soaring super eagle .
What is your advice to Nigerian players on how to improve and be signed by top-flight clubs?
It is not that our players aren’t playing well if you check Naby Keïta in Liverpool we played against them in the nation cup and we won them.
My advice to them is for them to continue working on themselves and also have a good management team who will package well them so that top-flight team can sign them.
Wilfred Ndidi is rated as one of the best midfielder in the premier league, with good management and media backing you will agree with me that he can play for any of the top-flight teams in the world like Man Utd, Liverpool even Barcelona.
Oghenekaro Etebo is a box to box player and is very good and is playing in Stoke city’s, but the future is bright for them.
But the important thing is to be playing week in week out for them to be seen and signed by big clubs.
I also talk to the players as my blood brothers and friends in which I advise them about life after football. About what they should do with their life during their active days and the need for them to invest their money in things that will profit them after they retire so that they will have a good life.
But what about when the players are not ready to talk to the media, how can we close that gap?
Players respect the media if the journalist passes through the right channel to talk to them, they will always want to respond to an interview, that is why we have the media officers in all the national team whom act as interface between the team and media.
Looking at the South Africa team whose prowess is perhaps hyped more than necessary.
When we were about to play against South Africa in Egypt during the nations cup you could see the media publicity given in which they also claimed that they were going to defeat Nigeria because they won us 2-0 in Uyo during the qualifiers which was not the case as we defeated them.
So the media has a lot to do to package our players to the world, other countries who are not as good as our team have good media backing for their teams.
Are you confident that the Gernot Rohr led team can qualify Nigeria for Cameroon 2021 and Qatar 2020 World Cup?
I am very confident the new team will do the nation proud in those tournaments because we have the talent and with the hard work the technical crew is putting into making the team indomitable, Nigerians should expect the best from the team.
In the last AFCON , we didn’t play badly if Algeria didn’t score that last minute goal we could have won the match and the title.
Remember we also qualified for the World Cup by beating Algeria and Cameroon so that should tell Nigerians that we have a good team that can deliver and Nigerians should have confidence in the present team.