Sam Elijah was a member of the Silver winning under 20 flying eagles that participated in the under 20 world cup in Saudi Arabia in 1989
In this interview published by Guardian newspaper, he outlines conditions that will ensue the qualification of the Super Eagles to the 2010 world cup in South Africa
sUPER Eagles’ former player, Sam Elijah, says that national team players must make discipline their watchword if they hope to be at the World Cup in South Africa next year.
While highlighting five basic ingredients the team needs to make it to the mundial, Elijah said that without discipline, no player would be able to carry out the coach’s match plan. The silver medallist at the World U-20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia 20 years ago said the determination to excel, government and private motivations, playing more relevant friendly matches and the use of a consortium of technical crew would boost the drive for qualification.
The former defender told The Guardian yesterday in Ilorin that it would be a disaster for Nigeria should it be absent from two consecutive World Cup tourneys. Now a coach with Kwara Football Academy (KFA), Elijah noted that the technical crew remains the pivot of any team aiming to do well at any tournament.
According to him, “it is normal to say that technical crew remains the pivot of any team. But what will happen when a pattern has been perfected during practice session and the players during the match decide to abandon the style? Will it be possible for the coach to substitute all the 11 players at once because they refused to play to instruction? The players should maintain high level discipline.
“Besides, I will advise the entire team to have confidence in themselves that they can succeed. In what has today become the Miracle of Damman, while we were four goals down to a Russian side, we enlivened our spirit and believed that we could level up.
“Some of us played the game as if we would not play any other again. Eventually, we leveled up and went on to beat the side.”
Using the Maslow Theory of Motivation to buttress his point, the ex international urged the three tiers of government and private individuals to give relevant incentives to the players and the technical crew to serve as a morale booster to them in their remaining qualifying games.
To Elijah, “it is one thing to organise friendly games and another to ensure such games are relevant to the team. For instance, we can be preparing for a game against Ghana and we are playing friendly games against European nations. It will not work and the earlier we realise this, the better.”
Showering encomiums on members of the coach Shaibu Amodu-led technical crew for the job done so far, Elijah urged Amodu to welcome others’ input towards making the dream a reality. He remarked: “When someone is occupying a position, he may not be the very best for it. It is God who enthrones and dethrones. But the same God will raise up men of vision and integrity as the advisers to the Lord’s anointed.
“If he wants to succeed, he must listen to them. This will give him options to select from. At the end, he alone and not those men will receive all the accolades. I wish the Super Eagles the best of luck.”