Blog: A perspective on team selection
Chipolopolo coach Honour Janza is expected to announce the final 23 man list of players that will represent the country at the Equatorial Guinea 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
His team selection has come under heavy scrutiny despite qualifying the Zambia national team to the 2015 tournament especially after he purged veteran players including long saving skipper Christopher Katongo and his failure to call some of the European based performing stars like Rogers Kola.
Against this background, ZamFoot’s Coach Franklyn takes a look at five critical factors which affect team selection to help give a technical perspective from a coach’s view point.
1. MANAGER/COACH’S PHILOSOPHY
Every coach wants his team to play in a certain way and not just in any way. Just like a baker doing a New Year’s day Cake will need specific ingredients so will a coach in order to play in his specific way. For Example, a team that plays a possession football will most likely need very good passers of the ball with emphasis on excellent movement on and off the ball than players full of athleticism and Robustness. To meet such a profile, a coach will consider from his selection pool players possessing qualities such as vision, ball retention, creativity, decision making and on/off the ball Movement.
Over the years, Zambian football has always been a passing game and the current technical bench has not departed from that. The bulk of those players in camp posses the ability to play in the ‘Zambian Philosophy of ‘Bola Panshi’ and on this basis, this factor has been met.
2. DISCIPLINE (MORAL &TACTICAL)
On many occasions, teams have been known to crumble at ‘hot points’ because of one or two individuals in the group who decides to be ill disciplined either on or off the pitch. There are different personalities in a team and some may not be assertive as others may be in a group and hence no matter how gifted they may be with a ball at their feet, they may easily sway away from doing the right thing for themselves and the team. The ‘bad’ seed in a team causes division and as such breaks the spirit of oneness which is critical in pursuit of victory. Once a team starts having camps and allegiances it’s a recipe enough for failure. Things such as retaliation, decent and lack of level headedness are a result of failure to maintain or just lack of discipline as a whole and they cost teams dearly.
Tactical discipline entails carrying on the relayed instructions to the latter and is very critical if anything is to be achieved. Winning a football match is about great tactical application from individuals and the team as a whole. To be able to carry out instructions needs discipline. Football is not like Netball where the rules of the game itself prevent one from reaching certain quarters of the field, in football Players are free to roam the pitch and as such their movement can only be restricted by the instructions provided by the coach. If the instruction is to seat and suck the pressure and hit on a counter then it has to be as such, no matter how boring it may seem to some players it just has to be done because lapse in concentration or doing otherwise by one individual will undo the entire team’s work. Very costly!
In the last three qualifiers, some good level of both tactical and moral uprightness were exhibited and the results were there to be seen. The team in Camp has most of those that do well in these regards.
3. WORK ETHIC
Talent alone is not enough. The difference between Good, Great and Best players is the amount of work they put in to up their game and at moments when things need a full application. If a team has five workaholics and six who aren’t as such it’s likely that things will tilt in favor of the six and the result shall most definitely be, failure. A high work ethic should be both for an individual and a team if desirables are to be attained. Failure to implement a high work ethic results in under achievement despite one’s natural abilities. One needs the drive to go forward and go the extra mile and it’s the difference between those in the history books and those who aren’t. A coach needs players who possess an excellent work ethic in order to attain results. I doubt the inability to uphold a high work rate by the 27 in camp.
4. RELATIONSHIP (COACH to PLAYER – PLAYER to COACH)
Just like any other Job, if there exists a rift between manager and subordinates it’s highly unlikely that targets will be met. It’s been proven that Players perform at their best depending on who they play for. Before one thinks of the club or country they walk onto the pitch to represent, they first think of who has shown confidence and faith to select them out of the many to do battle. May I remind you of a child in college coming from a family with scarce resources, as he sits to study at night before he thinks of the great job he’ll get in future he will think of how his parents toiled to send him to college and that’s the perfect tonic to get the distinction even before the great job in prospect.
If one’s relationship with a coach is bad they may not perform as much as their abilities may enable them to. A coach will find it hard to motivate such a one and most likely whatever the coach says may sound like noise to a player who he isn’t in good standing with. Players who play with the aim of showing ‘I am the man’ usually are erratic as they don’t play for the team but infact against the team. Every coach wants to be respected and given the attention, based on this coaches will go for players that will move ‘in line’ with them as it makes their work easier. How great the relationship is will determine how great the shift is.
5. VISION AND EXPECTATIONS
The future of a man without a vision is bleak. Any great coach or one aspiring to be a great one doesn’t only think of the present moment but equally the future. How much one Pays attention to the future will matter on the level of expectation for the future. One seeking to win a match will prepare for a day, one seeking to win matches will prepare for days with the right mind and make full use of resources at disposal. During the final of a tournament, a coach may even risk his best player who is carrying a knock but may not do so during a week 2 match of a 30 weeks league.
The expectations weigh heavily on what players to select for a particular assignment. The group selected for camp in preparation for the AfCON tells one what the FA should be expecting in
Equatorial Guinea. From this vantage point, a quarter final appearance may be seen as fine for Chipolopolo because it looks like Janza’s mandate is long term. Most of those Player’s will still be active in 2018 and this will be one of the stages in preparation for Russia 2018. As much as fans want the team to go all the way, the future must be considered otherwise we risk suffering from the same disease that has hit Egypt and previously Cameroon after the passing of a ‘golden generation’.
There are many factors surrounding the conundrum of selection but the above are chief for any coach who sets out to make a selection.
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