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The U17 football team is a true reflection that we have talents in the country. Sadly, we have not been able to successfully have a smooth transition of the cadet team into the U20, U23 and National team and that is really bad. Unfortunately, ego has been one of the reasons we have not been able to achieve this.
If a set of players win the U17, the U20 coach may not want them, he prefers another sets of players and that continues in that manner to the U23 and then the Super Eagles. Coaches want players that they want and not the ones that may have achieved success at the U17 level. But am sure with time it will work if we do it rightly. So transition problem is an issue. I think I still have the best record today to be the only coach whose players at the U17 level metamorphosed into the Olympics, and national team.
I have always been successful with all my teams. I was challenged when I used the same set of players that won the U17 World cup in Japan 1993 to play the U20 world cup which we hosted in 1995. A clique was formed against me at the then Federation and sports ministry. I told them it is not possible and they insisted I want to waste funds because we have already qualified as host. The then head of state General Sani Abacha invited me over to meet him because they reported me to him that I was very stubborn and that was it.
After much talk I did. They gave me money and I took the team to Germany where we played Leverkusen and other teams and we had a successful tour. When we came back I still observed that the players were not mature enough to prosecute the tournament. But they insisted I should use home based players. I was denied access to the team list that was released, till date I did not see it. Of course when the tournament started we all saw what happened in Lagos. Duke Udi, Ebiede , Harrison and Olumide played to the gallery rather than aiming to score. Who then should be blamed, Is it the Coach? I have done everything I can and that is the point.
Apart from me that used home based players at the U20 level, which other coach has done that? Maybe Disu and Hamilton. Coaches of now a days use foreign based players because they give them the kind of result they need. Same thing applies to Rohr. Today everyone is saying Rohr go and use home based players. All that agitations are not necessary. If his best are players based in Germany let him use them. You think Rohr is stupid, he is not stupid. Even members of the federation who criticize the league do you blame them. If the right thing is done our teams should consist of 60% foreign players and 40% players’ home based vis-à-vis. When a coach is given responsibilities allow him use the players he wants.
I don’t see anything wrong with hiring a foreign or indigenous coach for the national teams. If the government through the responsible body NFF has a choice or make a decision, let it be. If they want a foreign or indigenous coach, let the decision stand, a coach is a coach anytime.
In the past when I was the general secretary of NFF. I used to have unofficial discussion with them then and I asked on one occasion, how the money in the league is used. I did not conclude that the monies were misappropriated. But if you give a certain amount to the clubs, if the purpose for which the money was given has not come, they will use it for something else. So the best decision was to set the money aside for a particular expenditure which they never did.
Upon the death of the player of the Nasarrawa United. It was difficult to ascertain who should be held responsible. Who takes charge of the whole match, what is the role of the Club, the state FA. Nobody was able to come up with a clear definition of who is responsible. The saving grace they had on that day was that the Governor was present and watched the match, and he gave his own side of the story. So who do you blame, the referee, the FA or the Club. So I think we need to be enlightened and do the right thing at the right time. The league should find a way and resolve such issues because times are hard.
When a match is played in Maiduguri and the same team will be expected to play another match in less than 10 days in Lagos. How do they recover from the journey? We are not Europe where we use 60% for this match and another set for the next match. Some clubs have less than 30 players, while the players they use frequently are less than 20. So how do they cope with recovery? So I expect the league board to find a solution to it, it is not about having a winner; it is about doing it rightly. We can change the format we are using today if it is not good, we must not stick to it firmly. The fact is they know what to do but there are lots of mafia activities and its not helping the situation.