Last Thursday (8 Sept), I watched Arbil FC from Iraq play a "warm-up" friendly with the national Olympic team at Wisma FAM grounds. It was very refreshing indeed to watch that team play. They seem to have the right attitude and obviously very intelligent.
The front-runner of the Iraqi division one is said to have eight current and ex-internationals. Their players were well built, an indication that the management had planned, thought and selected players based on what is required to be a top international team.
It was exciting to see how the players could stop the ball, control and set to a foward running team mate with such precision. Most of their passes were on target and they were quick to regain possession whenever the lose the ball.
What was more interesting were how they moved the ball from one are of possesion to another without unnecessary back passes. Like most football fans, I fell sad when any team that brings the ball into the opponents area, kicks the ball back into his defence. What a waste.
The Iraqi team were mostly testing their possesion and set pieces and whenever the movements worked, they would take a shot at goal and almost all the shots were strainght to the goal area - no such thing as wild shots with the ball heading towars space.
My conclusion was that the team knew what they wanted. They used the match to test their attack build-up skills and the players were focussed.
The coach was intelligent and his intelligence was seen in the effectiveness of his players. I believe in many sports we often come across teams that have some good qualties, qualities which our players can learn. However for the players to learn, the coaches must be willing to learn also.
How nice if one day, wheneven there is a visiting team or tournament - football, hockey or any other sport - the day after the match or tournament, the local coaches gather and have a discussion with the foreign counterparts. I am sure a lot of knowledge can be obtained.
Whenever there is dissapoinment, the blame will be on almost everyone and everything - the teachers, schools, the rain, snow, oil and sun. I surely hope that one day we will have a generation of coaches who are eager to win and eager to learn.
If you are smart, your smartness will be reflected by the way your player or team plays.