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Nigeria Pulls Out of Football Competitions Till 2012
The president of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday directed that the country should pull out of all football competitions until 2012. This is as a result of the country’s poor performance in the ongoing world cup in South Africa.
The president’s directive did not come as a surprise to me, considering the lackluster performances of our teams recently. The last time they gave Nigerians something to cheer about was in South Korea 2007, when the U-16 team conquered the world and came back with the trophy.
Our performance in Egypt 2009 (FIFA U-20 World Cup) was less than satisfactory as we could not progress beyond the second round in a competition which was eventually won by Ghana’s Black Starlets. In the end we hosted the under 16 world cup (October/November 2009) and lost to the first players, Switzerland in the final; we should also not forget that we did not qualify for the competition because we were knocked out by little known Benin Republic, and only got there as the host nation.
Why Is Fortune Declining?
Many things have contributed to this downward spiral of our national teams; I will only mention a few of them for the sake of time:
Corruption: This has remained the backbone of our football as players are forced on the coaches by some people in a strong position in the government. This issue of God-fatherhood has largely contributed to the lackluster performance of our players, as those who are supported by these cabals believe that no one could ever remove them from’ r team as long as their godfathers are still alive. So they don’t give their best because they never got there by virtue but by the back door.
Quota system: The use of a quota system in almost every area of life has also affected our football as some areas/zones also have to contribute players whether they are fit or not. Players used to be selected to play for the national teams on the basis of merit, skills and fitness and not by geographical connection; but today it is the opposite.
Lack of continuity: Ghana is waxing strong today because they have been able to graduate their young talents to replace the aging ones. But in our own case, the old players have held on tenaciously to the national team shirts, preventing the young ones from graduating. How do we explain a situation where Kanu Nwankwo, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, John Utaka, Joseph Yobo, Rabiu Afolabi, etc. still maintain a regular shirt in the team? Only Haruna Lukman now plays for the Super Eagles when his South Korean teammates – Rabiu Ibrahim, Yakubu Alfa, Oseni, etc. have all been left out. What also happened to Coach Sampson Siasia’s Olympic squad?
What Should We Do?
Administration: The old hands in NFF should be flushed out and ex-footballers should administer our football. They would bring in passion and commitment, unlike the current people who are after money.
Continuity: Our young players who have done well at various levels should be graduated to take over from the aging players who are struggling for fitness: we should borrow a leaf from Ghana.
Preventive quota system: Players should be invited to the national teams on merit only and not on a quota system which brings in mediocrity into the teams.
Discipline: Our players should be subject to discipline; no one should be guaranteed a permanent shirt anymore. Anyone who is not doing well should be shown the way out, and more dedicated ones brought in.
Good development plans: The foreign coaches haven’t done too well for us (except Clemence Westerhof and Otto Gloria). We should therefore start developing our local coaches who would show more commitment if they were appointed to handle our teams. Our football academies should also be improved to produce quality players.
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