We all watched the Cordoba CF vs Sportpesa All Stars yesterday. There seems to be a lot of large hue and cry about our style of play. We need to take a football historical tour of Cordoba CF.
Córdoba Club de Fútbol is based in Córdoba. It was founded in 1954 with its home matches at the Estadio Nuevo Arcángel, which has a capacity of 21,822 seats. The stadium is going through a remodeling converting it to a pure football stadium. Three of the four sides have currently been rebuilt. When the fourth stand is rebuilt the capacity will be 25,100 seats. The pitch quality is excellent thus improves their quality of football actions. They were weaned on such facilities thus playing on such surfaces is second nature. The basic assumption from most of our fans is since we are used to bad surfaces, then we should quickly adapt to excellent ones be able to string 10-20 passes as the Spaniards do. Adapting to such surfaces is rocket science, the ball moves faster, and with a zip.
The introduction of sports science into professional football has sanctioned dramatic changes for the player, for example, number of explosive actions per team in a match, in-play ‘recovery time between high intensity sprints’ etc have all improved courtesy of sports science. Nutrition, supplements, sleep patterns are all subject to scientific knowledge aimed at achieving peak body performance for their players. Thus I would contend, because of sport science the Cordoba players were physiologically better Sportpesa All Stars players. A Toyota racing an F1 Ferrari.
Cordoba CF playing unit had an average age of about 24 years. Since they joined the Cordoba academy at 6 years, assuming they have 6 contact hours per week, each has had a minimum of 5,700 contact hours with their coaches. Our Sportpesa All Stars team had about 12 contact hours!! Compare and contrast. Granted our players have been playing structured football from around 16years, this will still account for about 10 wasted years. A whooping 3,000 contact hours!! Even some of the gained 2,700 contact hours have been under “coaches”. Consequently we lack football basics. These are not taught al All Stars level.
STYLE OF PLAY
The Spanish game is very different to other European styles of play. The players aren't as tall or as strong as their other European counter parts. Therefore the style of play is very unique. It is a possession oriented method of playing and with free flowing passes. We saw Cordoba bossing possession. It has a very fast pace to the game with structure kept at a minimum. This leads to defensive weaknesses, prone to counter attacks. We saw Ovella, Onyango Sammy and Oburu trying to catch the Spaniards on the break. This was our only chance of getting a result. Playing against these Spanish sides is like a death sentence by Ball Possession. Beating them at football possession is next to impossible.
THE HIGH LEVEL
At a higher playing level, the game is played in a more compact way. The lines play closer together which means less space in the pitches length and width.
Higher level = Less Space
To be able to handle smaller spaces at a higher playing level, more is demanded from the players. This goes for both offence and defense. During defence, it is important that players can make spaces smaller by pressurizing the ball or moving to close down space or passing channels. This requires lots of actions. Technically you need to be top notch to operate in these reduced spaces, any small mistake is punished. The opponent are always close by. Refer to the second goal we conceded.
Less space = Less time
Because the game is played on less space at a higher level, players get less time to act. During the attacking phase, the opposition makes the pitch smaller. In order to still create sufficient space on a smaller pitch, players will have to choose better positions, sooner recognize the moment to move and at the end, execute quicker. You rarely saw the Spaniards take more than two touches on the ball, it was always pass and move. While there were more dribbling attempts by Onyango, Ovella and Oburu than the entire Cordoba team combined. Food for thought. And the moment they lost the ball trigger for immediate press was fired. No time to think.
Less time= more action
In the game yesterday, you could clearly see the difference between players used to playing consistently at the highest level. Cordoba gave us a glimpse into the top level football we aspire to participate in. They were quicker on the ball, passed the ball better, had more explosive actions, quicker on the press, they hunted in numbers and behaved like bloodhounds immediately they lost possession.
Knowing Okumbi and Kamau all too well, they will regroup, replan and expect a better tactical outing against Sevilla Atletico on Saturday. They will sure plan how to play with the handicap. But the lessons there are not limited to Okumbi and Kamau, we are all learning as to what it takes to run a football club, its structure, stadium, and a whole lot more. While back here in Nairobi, I learnt so much from the happenings in Cordoba. The biggest lesson: Games are won before the ball is kicked. Such exposures allow us to measure the status of our game. Long may they continue as FKF is slowly planting the seeds with u13s.
This article originally appeared on www.geniusoffootball.com.