One of Africa’s Most Traditional Clubs, Bendel Insurance, Make Deflating Relegation Plunge; US School Flying Eagles

By Daily Sports on May 28, 2019

Views: 320

The Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Edo State, is one of the oldest existing stadia in Nigeria. At present, the stadium is undergoing massive renovation to turn it into a very modern comfy edifice.

The stadium is being prepared for the upcoming National Sports Festival which Edo State is hosting next year.

But the excitement in the Edo sports community about the reconstruction of the stadium has to do with the prospects of the Sam Ogbemudia stadium playing host to Edo State darling club Bendel Insurance.

Insurance in decades past, had been one of the most popular names of African club football. Just to remind ourselves, they won in 1993 the CAF Cup competition, what has metamorphosed into the CAF Confederations Cup today.

For some years now, Insurance have made the University of Benin Sports Complex their home and many have waited eagerly to see the club return to their more traditional home.

Unfortunately now, Insurance will be returning to the Ogbemudia Stadium but not as a Nigerian Professional Football league (NPFL) side – at least for a full season, following their relegation to the Nigerian Nationwide League (NNL).

The excitement of Insurance gaining promotion just a few months ago have died down truly as the club have plunged again into the despair of second tier football. This is really deflating.

ITV sports presenter Comrade Emason posted on his WhatsApp status: “It (Insurance’s relegation) is going back to Egypt.”

The Edo State Government through the sports-loving deputy governor Phillip Shaibu had done a whole lot to make Insurance a real elite outfit both financially and in terms of motivating the team through the presence of top government officials during games.

But success in football is not always guaranteed by such things as making money available and being on ground to cheer players. There are some conditions to be met as well as the need for luck to be successful.

In truth, the Bendel Insurance team of the 2019 NPFL season fell short of the needed requirements of playing quality football and undertaking adequate tactical preparations.

Part of the reason for this is that the club had not much time to prepare for the NPFL as they moved straight into the elite league immediately after their promotion play-off success in Aba.

If Insurance had played a couple of top class friendly games against NPFL sides as part of a proper preseason, then many of the problems related to the playing personal and tactics would likely have been discovered and they could have made better corrections.

Now it’s back to square one. One wonders whether the Edo Government would retain its enthusiasm for the club so they can pursue a fight back to the NPFL as soon as possible.

US Under-21 teach Flying Eagles a lesson

USA on Monday ran rings around Nigeria in the ongoing Under-21 World Cup and ended up deserving 2-0 winners. It was a game of men vs boys tactically as the Americans simply outplayed Nigeria.

The allegations of bribery and corruption involved in players’ selection are nauseating and this team has not been free of that. If this is the best Nigeria can produce in the Under-21 level, it’s very disappointing – to put it mildly.

Watching the Americans playing like a Pep Guardiola Man City team and making the Nigerians chase shadows for most of the game was sad for most Nigerians watching but, for the sake of football, it need not be.

There are useful lessons to be learnt in failure. For Nigeria, the Americans taught a useful lesson in long-term planning and continuity. If you look at the American team you would find that most of the players have been in their national team youth set up for years and they have formed a tactical bond that won’t be easily broken by a band of players hurriedly put together weeks ago to replace a wobbling and fumbling team that the coaches had years to put together.

The process of players’ selection in places like America and the rest of the world of top footballing nations is clearer and there is a good understanding of where the group would be in a given period of time.

There, there is a clearer playing philosophy that places good technique and tactics, with an emphasis on playing attractive football as a top of priority.

Hopefully Nigeria can get things right in terms of youth football development and if it takes the disappointment of watching USA schooling us with good football at the Under-21 level, so be it.

Source Daily Sports

Posted May 28, 2019


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