NPFL: Succour For Super Eagles Revival? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NPFL: Succour For Super Eagles Revival?

Posted: Jun 7, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu, Lagos

“You should focus on providing a viable programme that would help discover and nurture talents from the grassroots. Such a programme would create a quality players’ bank for senior national team coaches.”

Super Eagles

Super Eagles

That was the exact words of former Super Eagles Coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, earlier this month while urging the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to create a programme that will ensure regular inflow of talents into the country’s senior national team.

Onigbinde went on to counsel the coach of the Eagles to source for quality players from the local league instead of reliance on Nigerians playing in some of the obscure football leagues around the world.

Having failed to qualify for the last Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), there is a lot of debate on what and where the new-look Super Eagles should come from.

Also, as the qualifiers for the 2017 AFCON beckon, there is urgent need for the Super Eagles coach to hit the ground running immediately and present Nigerians with a team capable of replicating past victories.

While some football enthusiasts have hinged the team’s rebirth on the domestic league, others have said local league holds no future for the national team.

Keshi should be particularly worried given that the national team still wears the same old faces, with the exception of few debutants he included in his preliminary list for the AFCON qualifier against Chad.

Also, that NFF expects him to get to, at least, the semi final of the 2017 AFCON and qualify the Eagles to the 2018 World Cup, places huge responsibility on the already fragile shoulder of the coach. However daunting the task ahead may look, it behooves on Keshi to chart a new course for the giant birds of prey.

Virtually all the players that compose the first team of the Super Eagles are battling for relevance in their respective club sides. Most of these players, including John Mikel Obi, Emmanuel Emenike, and Victor Moses, among others based in Europe, are peripheral figures in their teams. This is where the debate on the domestic league comes to the fore.

Nigeria won the Unity Cup in 1980 with a completely home based players, who were captained by Christian Chukwu; and players like Finidi George moved straight to Ajax Amsterdam from Sharks of Port Harcourt on the strength of his contribution towards Nigeria’s qualification for the USA 94 and Tunisia 94.

There are so many instances the domestic league players rose up to be counted. For instance, Super Eagles won the 2013 Unity Cup on the strength of players from the domestic league, with Bastia of France forward, Sunday Mba, single-handedly winning the final match against Burkina Faso.

But, in all honesty, do all these mean the Super Eagles should be rebuilt from the home front going by the continental failures of the domestic clubs lately?

To Mutiu Adepoju, there is nothing stopping Keshi from looking inwards for good talents. “It is high time we look inwards and put our faith in some of our home based players. Let’s develop our league and our national team will be better off.”

On his own, former Golden Eaglets Coach, Fanny Amun, said the domestic league players hold the key to Super Eagles resurgence. He advised that the local league players be given the chance in the team if balance must be achieved.

“Whoever is in charge should take another cursory look at those players [home based], they showed class and displayed that high level of discipline you’d ordinarily expect to find in our senior National team.”

Amun said home Eagles are far better than their counterparts, who are playing in some unknown leagues around the world.

Speaking, Super Eagles invitee, Chinedu Udorji, has said if given the chance to prosecute the AFCON 2017 qualifiers, the home base players will not be found wanted.

However, former Super Eagles striker, Victor Okechukwu Agali, toed a different line, as he sounded a note of warning to the team’s handlers, urging them to go for the best players for the qualifiers. He said Keshi should go round Europe and beyond to look for the best legs Nigeria has if he is to make good his second coming as the teams helmsman.