Polo players in action
The Argentinean coach of host team Malaysia, Carlos Pando, believes Nigeria can soon go on to great things in the sport before the next World Cup Finals after the one to be hosted by Argentina in October, if they get to have the right handling, motivation and directing.
Pando, who thinks the side that is taking part in the World Cup Zone D Qualifiers going on here in Malaysia are brimful of very good players with weapons that are capable of fighting well against any of the world’s great sides such as Argentina, Brazil, New Zealand says what the players need is the tuning in the correct direction for them to be a formidable side.â€¨
Pando took on the job of Malaysia only three months ago and in that short space, seemed to have turned the modest Asian side to another tiger in the game.
And he said of the job he has done so far with the team: “They are gradually becoming a great side that is capable of holding their own against the best in the world. The players’ confidence is very high right now. â€¨
“The area of confidence is one of those I had to work on when I came on three months ago. Now, individually, they feel like they can take on the world. I think Nigeria are currently in the state that Malaysia were some three months back when I arrived to take on this job.â€¨
“This is why I believed that in the same manner that I have helped to bring out the best in the Malaysia side, Nigeria too can rise up to become as good and self confident as Malaysia within a short time if they have the right situation. The Nigeria team that I have seen in this tournament are very good, as far as I’m concerned. But I must say that this is in the potential of the team. Individually, they are good. But they need more than individual skills to excel.â€¨
“They have skills individually and can play with a sudden burst of energy. So, what they need now is more order in their style of play; they need to have more in the area of strategy and tactical discipline. You cannot have power alone. This does not beat the world. You need those other things that I have just mentioned.â€¨
“For instance, when I came into the Malaysia team, with just three months to this tournament, what I first did was to do a lot of fitness training, systems talk and have plenty of strategy sessions. That meant we had lots of training sessions. We called in players and after about a month, I had the camp down to six players; from which I came up with the starting four.”â€¨
In polo, the handicap balancing game, which usually requires that the total number of handicap of the starting squad; and for the team on the pitch at any point in time, not be higher than 14, is indeed a fine art for coaches.
This means coaches have to ensure they get their best hands into the starting lineup without exceeding more than 14 handicap ceiling. In doing this, they would also be bearing in mind that should changes need to be made in the course of the match, the substitute must be good enough to make the team retain its strength and yet not have a handicap that would take the total strength number over 14. It could be less; but must not be higher.â€¨
This means if a handicap-2 player was going off, even though there was a handicap-4 player on the bench, only another handicap-2 player – or less – could go in to replace him. (If the handicap-4 player were to be sent in, it would mean the total handicap strength of the team would then go to 16; which would be illegal.)â€¨