Thursday, 22 October 2015

OPINION: "On the poor performance of Nadi at the 2015 IDC Final", by Henry Dyer, 15 October 2015.

On the poor performance of Nadi at the 2015 IDC Final, by Henry Dyer, 15 October 2015
Henry Dyer and Emasi Koroi ("Bacardi").
From the semi-final (versus Labasa) it seems that Nadi’s pattern of play was just as usual. Their play was just like they might play in any normal weekend or at any training session. They were not playing to standard. There was nothing that took the breath of the spectators away. There was nothing to cause the Ba fans to be worried about the Nadi team in the final. The Ba supporters were very confident that Ba could take the trophy after watching the Nadi versus Labasa semi-final. Nadi was lucky to score against Labasa and to get into the final. Labasa was unfortunate that they did not click on the day. The big question-mark says that something major is missing in the Nadi team. Only the players and the officials know what is missing. To me what are missing are the basics of possession play, especially creating space for the ball-carrier to give him space to create quality passes and to learn to take kicks from 35-yards outside the box when the opportunity comes (either from the left, the right or the centre). They should have that goal-scoring instinct. Sometimes that killer kick is what is needed to answer the question.
Dyer & Boy Reddy (from Nadi's 1969 IDC winning team).
One of Nadi’s best chances was a header in the second-half which missed the goal. (It needed a 45-degree angle to score from around five metres out but instead was headed straight out with the ball travelling parallel to the side of the field.) They do not seem to have the qualities of a district player. They are not taught at training and / or the boys are not doing their own individual training in the back garden. It is all about basic tactical play. Very often when a Nadi player had the ball it was taken off him by a Ba player in a one-on-one contest. Nadi players do not know what to do when they have the ball in that critical or green zone. They do not know whether to just aim or to pull the trigger. It is like going to war and holding a gun and not knowing whether to shoot or not. It is like waiting for the enemy to shoot you. Very often in a one-on-one contest the Ba player would win the ball and then the Nadi player would have to get it back again. When you think about this scenario it is just a waste of energy.
Nadi players were brought on to the field early prior to the final to do 20-minutes of training on the pitch in front of the beer-parlour. I do not know what the purpose of this was. It should have been done outside of the camp or wherever they were before journeying to the stadium. This on-field training would have created extra tension and pressure. It is as if the coach and the president wanted to show the travelling Nadi fans that they were pushing the players to the limit. The training before the game did not even involve footballs which was very strange as the players’ weakness is ball-control skills. At the training the players were practising heading in pairs (without using balls) so it was indeed ironic when in the second half the Nadi player headed the ball out when a headed goal was very easily achievable. The players should be practising scoring goals from corner-kicks. In Fiji soccer in general, and with Nadi in particular, corner-kicks are totally wasted (and uninteresting for the fans) because they do not result in goals. Legendary Ba striker Inia Bola said to us (personal interview, 17 June 2015) that for every five corner-kicks there should be two or three goals. We are certainly a very long way from seeing that happen.
Maika Kasami (Fiji Sun), Dyer, and Seremaia Tale.
Overall, the Nadi players were not disturbing Ba at all by tactical play. Everything was just as usual. They were not turning defence into attack and they were not slowing the game down and they were not switching play from the left-side to the right-side to control the defence. They were not taking long-shots (only five or seven for the whole game, most of which went astray). The president of Nadi seems to think you must play fast to beat Ba. However, this just makes the players look frantic. To play fast you must have the skills and you must have the confidence yourself in the 50-50 plays. Nadi did not have the skills to manipulate Ba when playing fast. Ba was playing fast soccer too. They were not slowing the game down. If we had slowed the game down then we would have been able to see what Ba’s strengths and weaknesses were. However, we opted to go at full-speed. The two goals which Ba scored just showed that Nadi could not match their standard of play. The first goal caught the Nadi defence all napping. This was clearly evident to everyone in the beer-parlour including the ex-Ba legend Julie Sami (who was sitting next to us). We could see when the ball deflected off the Nadi player it went up high, straight up in the goal-mouth, for three or four seconds. There was not a Nadi player within range of the Ba player with the ball or within the range of the goal-mouth. We could say that the stopper-back was caught flat-footed and a few metres away from the Ba scorer. Just from this goal we can say that the defence was in a panic mode when the Ba onslaught arrived at the 22-metre box. The Nadi GK was not commanding verbally from the goal-area to the back. I was shouting out to him to communicate to his backs to keep a structure. After this Julie Sami mentioned how legendary Ba GK Bale Raniga was always talking to his backs about tactics in a loud voice. Even the quiet man Nadi GK Savenaca Waqa used to yell at us from the goal-mouth. When I went up to Nadi president Navaneeda Gounder at Dr Kewal’s surgery to say “hello” yesterday (Wednesday, 14 October 2015) I mentioned that the final goal was a very easy goal for Ba. Navneeda said that he did not see it! 
Henry Dyer @ Govind Park.
We are all trying our best to put Nadi Soccer back on the right track but some people who are in control of the sporting body do not want the help. The standard of soccer is not based only on the money available to the team. It is about coming down to the grassroots to talk to the people because that is where the talent is, the belief is, and the groundwork is. With Nadi Soccer everything is done in a top-down (corporatist) manner rather than a bottom-up (community-focused) manner. When the fans are happy then the enjoyment trickles right down to the bottom again. Everything starts from the bottom. When you see children at the gate begging for money to go to the game we can conclude that the sport is healthy. However, we only see that at Govind Park where the Ba team is the object of so much passion from all classes and segments of supporters. Only time will tell when Nadi Soccer will rise again. [By Henry Dyer and Kieran James, 15 October 2015, written on the top floor of the Central Club, Ba Town, which is the Ba Soccer Crazy Town where all the drama played itself out last week.]

Hardcore Ba travelling fans including "Skull" (third from left) and Ben (first on right). This picture was taken when the guys stopped off in Lautoka City for a late-night drink after Friday night Fiji FACT 2015 matches in Nadi.

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