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South Africa 2010 - Brazil, Argentina, Italy, France, England and the African teams were the biggest losers at the world cup....

By Maria Amira Hidalgo

We came across the exciting life story of Rodolfo Zapata, a real globe trotter who happens to be the only Argentine football coach working in Akure, Nigeria. Born in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1966, Zapata was professional goalkeeper in the Argentinean League, but after 12 years in the fields, he was forced to call for a premature retire after consecutive knee injures.

Since January, Rolo Zapata is Head Coach of Sunshine Stars FC (Nigeria Premier League). He is one of the most knowledgeable coaches in the land and applies physical and scientific methods to his tactics.

Prior to this position, he was Head Coach of the USA Olympic Development Program and United Nations International School in New York.

We contacted him through his website, and he responded to us in a timely manner:

Africans waited for this event for such a long time. They all felt the World Cup was a big party for them.

In this world cup most of the teams in the tournament played a 4-2-3-1 formation. That is flat four defenders, two defensive midfielders, three attacking midfielders and only one player as forward. Some teams were successful, others were not. Technique was very poor.

Several disappointments and a lot of teams broke the form-guide. But Spain confirmed that their recent success at Euro 2008 was no fairy-tale by reaching the final again in South Africa. Netherlands and Uruguay were the revelation of the tournament. It is true that Holland did not play beautiful football as displayed by the Netherlands of Cruyff, Van Basten, Gullit or Kluivert, but this team was effective and they are worthy finalists. Germany is always among the major candidates, so this is nothing new.

The failures of this world cup without doubt are Italy, France, England and the African teams. Italy and France, who played in the 2006 World Cup final were very disappointing. Both teams looked old, boring and they need to revamp their squads.

Argentina and Brazil also disappointed their fans. Argentina was not an smart team. They were not tactically astute. It is not the same way you play against Mexico that you play Germany with. We need to play those two teams differently. If you are playing against Mexico, then you have to push them because they are a slow team. In contrast, against Germany we should not push them too backwards, because that will give the team the possibility of launching counter-attacks with precision and speed. The Germans finished off England and Argentina with those smart moves.

Brazil also failed. Dunga's team played excellently for 405 minutes... but they played very poorly in the last 45 minutes against Holland, and to do that in the quarter-final of a World Cup, you must pay an expensive price.

The African people had a lot of expectations and hopes that a team of this continent would be world champions. Only Ghana defended the pride of Africa…but they were very innocent. All other teams demonstrated the big disorganization in African football and showed this on the field of play.

African football is not developed as it should be. I think it is finally time to change a lot of things. The African football community must renew their ideas or improve on chosen projects or programs, so as to improve the football on the continent.

Nigeria National Team was the “best” example. The Eagles' were distracted and an inept team tactically. Lagerback based his tactics on defensive play, despite the flock of talented players in the squad. To play a defensive tactical system is easy. You only need to have a blackboard, make a straight line passing through the midfield and you order players not to pass the line and not to leave spaces. The Nigerian team is blessed with so many rich and gentrified players but they lacked the positive attitude to become world champions.

After so many uncorrected errors, Nigeria should go back to the basics. We must learn from past mistakes. Nigerian football is going through a stage of transition.

Because of their ages, some players should give way for younger and hungrier players. Players like Joseph Yobo, Nwankwo Kanu, Rabiu Afolabi, Danny Shittu, John Utaka, Chidi Odiah, Odemwingie, Yakubu, Kalu Uche, Ikechukwu Uche, Dickson Etuhu, Obinna Nwaneri, Sam Sodje, Seyi Olofinjana, Onyekachi Okonkwo and Yusuf Ayil should make way for the youthful players.

Why? Because all these players mentioned will be more than 30 years or more during the next tournament in Brazil, so they are no more relevant again in the Super Eagles.

We need players who are proud to defend the national colours of green-white-green. The following players should form the basis of the new look Super Eagles: Daniel Adejo (Reggina, Italy), Lukman Haruna (Monaco, France), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea, England), Harmony Ikande (AC Milan, Italy), Prince Etuwe (Atvidaberg FF), John Chibuike (Hacken), Rabiu Ibrahim (Sporting Lisboa, Portugal), Victor Obinna (Inter Milan, Italy), Elderson Echiejile (Braga, Portugal), Olufemi Adebayo (Boulogne), Dele Adeleye (Metalurh, Ukraine), Gbolahan Salami (Sunshine Stars FC), Abe (Sunshine Stars FC), Ideye Brown (Sochaux, France), Muhammad Shagari (Kano Pillars), Chinedu Obasi (Hoffenheim, Germany), King Osanga (Akwa Utd.), Victor Anichebe (Everton, England), Sone Aluko(Aberdeen, Scotland), Solomon Okpako (Kano Pillars), Ahmed Musa (Kano Pillars), Osas Idehen (Enyimba), Terna Suswan (Lobi Stars), Obiora Nwanko (Wikki Tourist), Oladejo Olateru (Clique Sports Academy), Dami Paul (Ousford Academy), Aigbe Oliha (IgbinoBabes), Ogenyi Onazi (My People FC), Sani Emmanuel (My People FC), Fortune Chukwudi (Super Sport United), Kenneth Omeruo (Hard Foundation), Olarenwaju Kayode (Marvellous), Terry Envoh (Mighty Jets), Chukwujike Mgbam (Standard Academy),Yusuf Otubanjo (Emmanuel Amunike Academy), Amos Izuchukwu (Team Lagos), Obinna Okoro (Young Stars), Edafe Egbedi (Gizallo), Deji Joel (Eco Academy) and Ramon Azeez (Future Pro Academy).

In the next two years, we should give the players a chance to show their skills in the Super Eagles. We should also have a national team of at least 50 young home based talents to choose from.

I am sure that maybe problems could arise. Any Football Association, as a family or any group of people, it is expected that not everyone will agree and problems will occur. It is not easy to get everybody to be operating on the same wave-length. We should always welcome the new members of this family. Everyone arrives with new and creative ideas that we should embrace gratefully. It is dynamic to share your ideas and points of view. Yet, debates have to be done at the right place and this is the right moment. These discussions should be done at organized meetings or the annual meeting of the NFF Board.

But we need to know that to be a member of the Board is not an easy task, because I know how difficult it is to keep the family united.

We (as players, coaches and board members) are all part of the team and it is our responsibility to make the Super Eagles a force to be reckoned with.

Rodolfo Zapata
Head Coach Sunshine Stars FC (Nigeria)

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Maria Amira Hidalgo and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."