June 08, 2021
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Strikers need more patience, says Nawatu

Former national and Lautoka rep Valerio Nawatu says strikers need to play with more patience and avoid rushing in front of the goalmouth.

The 38-year-old Serua native who retired from competitive football after Lautoka's 2-1 loss to Labasa in the final of the Inter District Championship (IDC) last year in an interview with FijiLive said he has noted that strikers are not being consistent these days as they are overconfident and rush in with their attempts on goal.

He said strikers have to be very patient and ensure they finish the chances that have been created as a lot of hard work in put in by other teammates to set up through passes and crosses to them to score goals.

Having won his first title as a 17-year-old with Bhawani Dayal Arya College at the 2001 Inter District Championship at the then National Stadium in Suva, Nawatu did not look back and continued to progress in his football career.

In 2003, he was part of the young Navua outfit that won the Fiji FACT title at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori. In 2004, he won his first Battle of the Giants title with Rewa before making a switch to Suva and then to Lautoka where he won the Inter District title and represented the Blues in 2008.

He also won the National League and the IDC crowns with the Blues in 2017 before getting suspended over disciplinary issues.

With over 50 career goals to his name, Nawatu said: “The key to scoring a goal is being patient and having the determination to score and prove your best ability."

"Strikers often fail to score from in front of the goal mouth because they become over confident and don’t make wise decisions on the field.”

“At times players lose their focus especially when it’s a tough match or playing against a tough team. But as momentum builds up, players aren’t able to absorb the game plan and they get mixed up on the field and make rational decisions,” he said.

The veteran striker also highlighted that strikers need to have fast speed and ability to score from any given angle.

“What happens is that when finishers don’t have enough speed in them, they can’t run around the field and get tired easily. There is always opportunity to score and the opportunity comes from the opponent team’s mistakes.”

“The players should also have the gut in them to score and use their scoring skills in them.  Their ability to score can be tested during their training and strikers can also get their pick up point on their strength and weakness. Strikers should train to their best that they are able to shoot a goal from any position,” he added.

“I believe the best type of exercise for footballers is to eat healthy, get enough rest, and avoid alcohol and smoking. Whatever they do at the ground level and in their training is tested during a match. The fans and families also test them through their performance.”

“There are different types of training the strikers can do because strikers are both left and right footed. Players who don’t work should spend at least six hours on their training daily and those who are working can take at least three hours of time in training.”

“Ball control and scoring with your head is also some important training the players can undertake as they prepare for the next match or a tournament. Strikers should learn to take powerful shots because in soccer, there is hardly any place for slow shots. Players should train to their best capability and give their training testimonial against their opponents,” he further explained.

While his career as a player is over, Nawatu wants to give back to football and take up coaching.

At the moment, he is back at his farm in Navua and believes this current pandemic gives everyone a chance to go back to the land and earn a living.

By Romeka Romena   

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