If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail, is a popular saying about the importance of planning and preparation. Having failed to qualify for the football event of the last Olympic Games, one would have thought the Nigeria Football Federation and the sports ministry would put in more effort to ensure a good outing once they qualified for this year’s edition, but it has anything but.
The Dream Team VI, Nigeria’s Olympic football team to the Rio Olympic Games have staggered right from formation and continues to stagger just days to their first game of the competition.
Preparations to last year’s All Africa Games were shambolic to say the least, it was even worse as they prepared for the U23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal which served as qualifiers for the Olympics, as the team grappled with series of setbacks from lack of training kits to lack of buses to convey players to training grounds and lack of financial incentives to the players and coaches as they were owed endlessly.
It was tales of woe all the way down and not much has changed since then, and in fact, it does seem like it has even gotten worse.
There was also the issue of players that would be available to represent the country at the Games, as European clubs refused to release their players to the team since the Games isn’t in the FIFA calendar.
When you add that to the other multitude of challenges the team has had to face, one begins to wonder if anything should really be expected of them. But as usual, the Nigerian sports authorities would expect them to return home with the gold medal even when they have had next to no proper preparation for the tournament.
Even as at this moment, the team was supposed to have left Brazil last week, but had to wait until today because there was no word on how they would leave their Atlanta, United States training base to South America, three days to their opening fixture. What a shame!
Unconfirmed reports have even suggested that John Obi Mikel has picked up some of the team’s tabs since joining them, while coach Samson Siasia has cried that he is yet to be paid for five months, while his players are yet to receive any of their allowances to date. While another unconfirmed report has indicated the team has not trained for the past four days because there are no vehicles to convey them to their training ground.
So then, you begin to ask the question: what do we expect from a team that has been bothered with their welfare rather than the actual preparations for the Games? As a result of the lackadaisical attitude of both the sports ministry and the NFF, players and coaches have had to concentrate more on how to survive rather than perfecting strategies. If that isn’t a recipe for failure, then I wonder what is.
However, the lack of proper preparation notwithstanding, a few faithful are still optimistic the team can get a good outing in Brazil. However you choose to interpret ‘good outing’ in this case is subject to your own interpretation but what the preparations or lack of it tells us is that the country is once again heading into doom.
Like they say, if you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.