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Olofinjana's BombShell: Nigeria football is sick

Posted by By CHIMAOBI UCHENDU on 2007/06/27 | Views: 975 |

Olofinjana's BombShell: Nigeria football is sick


Call it the verdict according to Seyi Olofinjana and you won’t miss anything as he says Nigerian football needs an urgent surgical operation, else the game will die a natural death.

Call it the verdict according to Seyi Olofinjana and you won’t miss anything as he says Nigerian football needs an urgent surgical operation, else the game will die a natural death.

He is miffed that those saddled with the responsibility of maximising the country’s past gains are busy engaging themselves in a ‘rat race’.

"Let’s not deceive ourselves, Nigerian football is sick," the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ midfield star said. "Our football is bedridden and we need a serious surgical operation to clear the mess. If nothing is done about the state of football in Nigeria now, a time will come that football will be dead in the country."

Olofinjana, who plays in the English Nationwide League, also said it is not acceptable that a country like Nigeria that was once at the top echelon of football not too long ago, is now struggling for recognition, even amidst soccer minors.

He heaped the blame on the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) for neglecting their primary role of organizing friendly matches for the Super Eagles on FIFA match-free days.

Olofinjana, however, said it would amount to sabotage on the part of NFA board members, if they don’t wake up to their responsibilities immediately by re-organizing all the national teams and breathing life into the local league.

Any country that aims to be the best must not compromise the position of her senior national team in the FIFA rating, he started.
He added: "I have watched with dismay the downward slide football in Nigeria has taken over the years, and I cannot but speak out to save the future of our next generation of footballers.

"All the achievements recorded in times past have been eroded by the activities of those saddled with the responsibility of building from their predecessors. Our football development is on the decline and the current state of affairs cannot be said to have the answers to the numerous questions waiting for attention.

"It is sad that after the exploits of the Eagles at the 1994 World Cup, and the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, Nigeria is yet to take its rightful place in football in the continent and the world.

"We claim to be the giants of Africa and, often times, we struggle and, sometimes, fail to qualify for major championships because countries we regard as minors prove hard nuts to crack. It is not unexpected because our football administrators have priorities, which override the overall interest of football development.

"With all sense of sincerity, I want us to take a look at countries in Africa that go out of their way to organize international friendly matches for their national teams. When I talk of friendly matches, I mean quality ones that can expose the inadequacies and strength of the squad. You can mention countries like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Senegal as serious countries that merit their position in FIFA ranking.

"These countries utilize FIFA-free days by engaging serious footballing nation on friendly matches and have, with this attitude, exposed their players to the knitty-gritty of international football.
"In the case of Nigeria, we always have proposals that would convince even a Thomas of what they have in stock for Nigerian football. But all these proposals never see the light of day.

Instead, they go for cheap and not serious footballing nations, to close the people’s eyes on their shortcomings. This situation has taken football further down the abyss and I can tell you that in the nearest future our youths will suffer for it.

"Standards are really dropping at an alarming rate and I hope the appropriate authorities would take the ‘bull by the horn’ to save our football from total collapse.
"People, whose opinion I think I should respect, complain about the attitude of players of the Super Eagles towards national assignments. But the truth of the matter is that handlers of the national teams and NFA have not been able to get the right build-up to any match.

"It has always been the same story of inviting players a few days before a match, or sending conflicting signals as to where the players should converge. To the ordinary Nigerian football fan on the street, the players feel too big to don the national colours of their fatherland.

"Until we begin to correct these anomalies and play regular friendly matches as we would love to, the problem would continue to linger. Nigerian football is stagnant, I must confess, and other African countries are using every opportunity we miss to develop their game, and come back there to challenge us.

"This was evident at the last World Cup qualifiers where Angola, against all odds, picked a ticket at the expense of Nigeria. Other countries are waking up very fast and are doing everything possible to catch up with us. It is a sorry state of affairs that, while we are not growing, our neighbours are moving fast and are catching up with us.

"Our preparations towards the forthcoming Ghana 2008 Nations Cup qualifier against Lesotho should not be taken for granted and, in fact, it should be used as a study case for the NFA, the technical crew and the players. The game must not be toyed with, considering the disappointing outings of the Eagles in previous matches," Olofinjana advised.

He finally urged his teammates to use the match to regain the confidence of Nigerian fans, who have supported the team all through the Nations Cup qualifying campaign.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.