I’ve read numerous reactions of Nigerians to the friendly games of the national team, the Super Eagles, against Algeria and Tunisia, and I see how deeply misplaced their anger at the results of the games.
Perhaps my position is a reflection of the generation I belong as a follower of the Eagles between the 1980s and the early years of 2000.
I sympathize with those who lose their sleep over the Eagles of this generation, I don’t mean the players particularly, but the system, the play, the passion, supporters, and all that.
Now, what we watch in Eagles friendlies are a group of diaspora footballers who don’t know the history of this great team and who don’t understand what it requires to wear the national jersey. Players that are not products of the real Nigerian football mill, “tokunbo” players, who truly have the right to be given a look in by Gernot Rohr or the NFF as Nigerians, but who ironically, don’t have the “complete qualities” of being national team players of NIGERIA, Africa’s biggest and the most gifted nation on earth.
It is easy to blame Rohr for the outcomes of the games. That is a relative matter anyway on which fans and pundits are sharply divided in opinions. But for me, our destinies lie in our own hands and not in Rohr’s. He could pack his bags and go and we bring in another manager, ( foreign or local) yet the situation will remain the same as long as we won’t hold the bull by the horns.
Holding the bull by the horns is regenerating the true Nigerian game, its genuine spirit anchored on domestic league development and growth system consciously watered for national and international consumption. The ingredients needed here are a compulsory school football curriculum, honest age-grade competitions, professionally-run and monitored academies and a commercially – oriented league system which ultimately will engender a truly professional atmosphere and an attractive industry for huge investment by govt and the private sector.
This will make our players grow from home, from our own foundation, learn the Nigerian culture of football, play it under coaches and administrators who must have also been part of its nuances, and earn a decent living in it.
This should not however be misconstrued for ignorance of the fact that as a professional discipline, football will and must take players out of the country to better climes, but without the necessary foundation, they won’t be desirable for the next level and would be without sufficient competence to wear our national colors.
Today’s Eagles squad is dominated by diaspora players, who with due respect, possess qualities that can’t be totally ignored but who would have been superb as a unit if they had cut their teeth and grown under a strong Nigerian system if we had been a serious football economy.
I challenge everyone who has read this opinion of mine to go check the history of each player that won the 1994 nations cup and played at that year’s world cup in the USA. Please find out if they were diaspora players.
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