Early this morning the team had a light walkabout on the road around their hotel in Cairo, after a day that most people will regard as very boring. Footballers have to get used to such a boring but tasking lifestyle. Their daily program of activities reads like this: sleep, train, eat, heal, sleep, train, eat, heal,…on and on. It is only occasionally that this sequence is interrupted, and even that is short and sharp before the players return to their narrow existence. Even amongst the players in camp, there is little time for socialization outside the football training ground. Day and night the players are on their own, in the confines of their two-per-room accommodation with their duvets and some television as their cosy companions. They also take their health and physical wellbeing very seriously with regular massage and physiotherapy sessions to ease bruised, aching and battered bodies, particularly during a championship such as AFCON. They can’t afford to allow concerns and thoughts about family and friends to come in and disturb their psychology. It is not fun to be in camp. It must be a total focus or nothing. To do otherwise is to make life in camp hell.
So, yesterday, the camp was boring. The team met their coach as directed during breakfast. They had a light training session followed by a very interesting half an hour with Mr Motivator, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick. After the meeting, the players retired again to their rooms from where they watched the match involving their next opponent – Algeria. Can you believe it? The players did not even congregate to watch the match between Algeria and Cote D’Ivoire collectively. They did from their individual rooms. That’s how regimented life in the camp is. Each player would start, after watching the match, to contemplate how to deal with the new opposition. Interestingly, Algeria presents a completely new kind of football dynamic, different from anything the Eagles have so far experienced in the championship.
My weekly column comes out tomorrow in selected newspapers and also on my new website www.mathematical7.com