Does timing of Italy friendly make sense?


Nigeria have just announced the Super Eagles will take on Italy in a prestigious November friendly at Fulham’s Craven Cottage in London.

Hats off to the Nigeria Football Federation. This is just the sort of friendly Nigerians want to see. Our boys measuring themselves against the best. Italy conjure up so many memories for Nigerians of the match against Roberto Baggio and co in the second round in the 1994 World Cup.

However, since this is an opinion piece I’m going to venture some thoughts that came to mind once I’d stopped saying “wow, Italy” to myself.

This friendly is slated to go ahead on 18 November. That’s just two days after the crucial World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia in Calabar on 16 November.

The Super Eagles might have a goal advantage from the away leg, but I don’t think anyone would say that qualification is now a foregone conclusion. It will still take the best team possible to put in a disciplined performance.

That means our best team is playing on Saturday afternoon. We’re then asking them to fly to London and play on Monday evening? You can bet your bottom dollar that Jose Mourinho would have something to say about treating one of his players in Mikel like that.

Can you see England, Germany, or Holland making such a request of their stars? The clubs who pay their wages would encourage them to put such a request where the sun doesn’t shine.

The Confederations Cup in June showed that Keshi has little room for rotation so playing a second string would be offering lambs to the slaughter.

Anyway what’s the point of friendly games? Giving a coach the chance to experiment. If they make it to Brazil the seedings will make sure Nigeria are placed in a group with one of the world’s dominant powers. This is the chance to show that after the encouraging display against Spain in June they really can match up with the best.

I’m sure the issue can be fudged but my final thought is Nigeria use an agent so I wonder about the relationship when the timings of matches are a tad off point. The tail doesn’t wag the dog.

If the game were on the Tuesday what a difference a day makes.

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