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The Akure side lost their first game to Esperance in Ijebu Ode a fortnight ago and face an uphill task as they head into this weekend's encounter against Etoile du Sahel

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By Emeka Nwani

Nigeria’s representative in the Champions League, Sunshine Stars will play its second game this weekend against Tunisian side Etoile Du Sahel.

After losing their first game to defending champions Esperance in Ijebu Ode a fortnight ago, the Akure team will try and fight for three points against another Tunisian club side on the road.

In this article, Goal.com lists five things Sunshine Stars must do to have any chance of qualifying for the semi finals of the Champions League

5. SELF-BELIEF

In the first game of the Champions League, players of Sunshine Stars approached the game as if they wanted to learn some new tricks from the Tunisians. In the first half, they could not put their acts together and they allowed players of Esperance all the space to exhibit their talents.

It took Esperance 45 minutes to score two goals before the players of Sunshine Stars realised that they must also play to win the game. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote said his boys gave a lot of respect to the Tunisians and that affected their rhythm in the game.

But the players must believe in themselves if they must qualify for the semi finals of the Champions League. They must be able to show their stuff in every game from their away game against another Tunisian side Etoile Du Sahel. They must not allow any team take them for a ride. Believing in themselves will solve a lot of problems as they will play as if their lives depends on the games.


4. FIELD ONLY FIT PLAYERS

In the game against Esperance, the technical crew of Sunshine Stars clearly showed that they did not study the game plan of the Tunisians. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote started Cameroonian Medrano Tamen and it showed that he was not fit for the game. With just 15 minutes of the first half, Medrano was injured and after 25 minutes he was substituted. This altered the game formation of Ogunbote and distorted the plans of the Akure side.

And the coach also featured strikers that are small and short and could not contest aerial balls with the Esperance defenders. The coaches must ensure from the next game, they only give jerseys to players who are free from an injury and who are committed to the cause.

This will prevent forced substitutions in any game. Only fit players will ensure Sunshine Stars start competing for the available 15 points in the remaining five matches.


3. PLAYER MOTIVATION

In the first game against Esperance, Sunshine Stars players could not convince anybody that all was well in their camp as regards their welfare. There were reports that the players had not been paid as and when due. The fans in fact appealed to the management to pay the players and make them happy so they can qualify for the semi finals of the Champions League.

The management should ensure that the players are truly motivated so that they can give their best. All outstanding salaries and sign on fees must be paid. The management must not be reminded that the players are human beings and only the prompt disbursement of every payment due the players can ensure that they give their all on the pitch.


2. SUFFICIENT KNOWLEDGE OF OPPONENTS

There is nothing wrong with knowing how your opponents play. Sunshine Stars technical crew should ensure they find a way to get the tapes of every club they want to play against.

Their first game against Esperance showed the North Africans actually studied the playing pattern of the Akure side and did a lot to neutralise all the antics of Sunshine Stars.

Coach Gbenga Ogunbote should find a way of getting the tapes of other clubs in the group and study it so it will aid his match plans.


1. POSSESS A WINNING MENTALITY

Sunshine Stars players must approach every game with the winning mentality whether they are playing at home or away. The players must not look inferior to any club in the group. They must play with the aim of getting all three points on offer in each encounter.

If their mentality is to win every game and work towards it, then they will be one step to achieving their aim of qualifying for the semi finals of the Champions League.


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