Even though he has not yet secured all the players he wants in his team, the national football U-23 team coach Pio Paul is happy with those that turned up for a recent training camp.
Paul said the players have shown great potential to break into the senior team with ease.
According to the coach, even though some players lacked match fitness and confidence, with more game time they will grow into great players. He said about 90% of them will definitely make it to the Zebras. Paul called on local teams to give these young players more game time to build up their confidence and fitness. “Lack of game time is the main problem with local players. At the national level we are not able to hold long camps because of resources so the teams should play these youngsters more often,” advised the coach.
He said local teams should participate in the development of the team by releasing their players when their service is required. Some teams did not release their players for the just ended two weeks camp. The coach said some teams gave genuine reasons while others just gave excuses. It is believed that some teams did not release their players as they were also preparing for the start of the second round of the beMOBILE premier league which began on Friday.
Paul said refusing with players is a very big challenge to his plans because at one point he works with a certain group and the other with a different group. “There is no enough time for preparations so I urge the teams to release players when called for national duty,” pleaded the coach.
During their camp the team had a couple of friendly matches against beMOBILE premier league teams as well as Burkina Faso senior national team. From the five games they played Paul’s team achieved a good record of two wins, two draws and a loss.
Even though they lost 0-2 to Burkina Faso, the coach was impressed with their play. “They played very well given that they were up against the senior team. During the first half the boys respected their opponents but in the second half they did well and started playing good football,” said the coach.
The national U-23 team is only left with about two months to play in CAF Championships and Olympic qualifiers. The team is expected have regular two-week training camps to prepare themselves for the qualifiers.