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Given Nigeria's sterling pedigree in youth football on the world stage, the lustreless performance of the Flying Eagles at this year's African Youth Championship (AYC) in Congo has grieved millions of soccer loving Nigerians. The defending champions, despite making it to the final, relinquished their crown in the most subservient manner to hosts, Congo. All through the tournament, the Flying Eagles showed signs of inadequate preparation and lacked passion. Their defeat by Congo came as no surprise, following their inept outing in the 0-2 loss to Cameroon in the last group match. However, the 1-0 defeat of Gambia by the Flying Eagles in the semi-final was against the run of play, considering the dominance of the Gambians, who were so unlucky on match day.

If anything, Coach Godwin Uwua's squad to Congo is the worst Nigeria has ever paraded. It is in this light that many are calling for the head of the coach. He should be blamed for parading a squad that was unable to function as a team. As Eddie Rusansk, coach of Congo, put it, the Flying Eagles did not play as a team and their individual display ruined them in the final against his boys. The humiliating defeat by Congo is too bitter to swallow. But it should serve as a lesson to us that you don't rely only on mother luck to win matches. You prepare very well for them. As rightly pointed out by the Director of Pepsi Football Academy, Kashimawo Lalako, the lethargic approach to the development of youth soccer in the country was partly responsible for the dismal performance of the nation's U-20 team in Congo.

Although Nigerians have taken consolation in the qualification of the Flying Eagles for the World Youth Championship (WYC) in Canada this year, it will be a great tragedy if Uwua is allowed to take the squad to the championship. He should be fired without any delay. There is no justification for allowing him to stay a day longer in the saddle. Besides, the team should be thoroughly overhauled since outright disbandment may not be the best option as the time to assemble an entirely new team is too short. Also, the new coach to be appointed should get a playmaker for the team. Lack of a playmaker in the squad to Congo was one of the glaring technical deficiencies that cost them the cup. As the WYC is less than five months away, preparations must begin in earnest so as to either equal Samson Siasia's record or surpass it by winning the cup. Siasia led his boys to the second position in Holland in 2005. Our late preparations for major tournaments is legendary. However, we hope the NFA will break from this ugly past and get cracking with the Flying Eagles' preparation for the mission to Canada.