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CONFESSION! Quota system destroyed Eaglets –Izilien

Posted by By CHIMAOBI UCHENDU on 2005/05/24 | Views: 360 |

CONFESSION! Quota system destroyed Eaglets –Izilien


Before he stepped into the aircraft that lifted the Golden Eaglets from the Murtala Mohammed Airport to The Gambia, coach Godwin Izilien knew he was going for a lost battle. He knew he was destined to fail.

Before he stepped into the aircraft that lifted the Golden Eaglets from the Murtala Mohammed Airport to The Gambia, coach Godwin Izilien knew he was going for a lost battle. He knew he was destined to fail.

Even at the airport, embattled Izilien confessed to Daily Sunsport that scores of complimentary cards from highly placed Nigerians still flew in, asking him to include their wards on the list.

And the man who seems not to know his onions caved in, prompting allegation that their was money inducement from some of the players, or their god-fathers.
Take a look at the 18 players Izilien took to The Gambia and you won’t ask further questions as to why the Benin-born coach failed.

Of the 18 players on Izilien’s list nine were from the southern part of Nigeria and nine from the north. Is it a mere coincidence? Are these the best players Nigeria.can produce? Is it also a coincidence that Sports Minister, Colonel Musa Mohammed’s brother, Mohammed Salihu, was also on the list? So many questions for Izilien to unravel.
It was reported that some powerful men in the society made sure their state had a player in the team, whether talented or not.

When Izilien was confronted with these posers he agreed that he was marooned with different complimentary cards and letters from people who wanted their wards, or somebody from their state to make the final team. This, according to Izilien, continued even when he refused some... until the final day at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport where he had to decamp 10 more players to satisfy some quarters.

"When I was given the job to handle the Under-17 team I accepted it not to disgrace my country or myself. I wanted to surpass records already set by my predecessors, which I did to the best of my ability. The problem was that the team continued to change everytime because of pressure from people who insisted that their geo-political zone must be represented. This continued even till our departure. But I tried my best to make the best from the crisis. To worsen the matter, we were not motivated to stay focused by staying in camp. I can tell you that for the entire time, we did not stay together for a month unhindered.

"Let me start with the qualifiers. When we were to play the Angolans away, my players were all scattered but I had to beg Odegbami and Alhaja Ayo Omidiran to bail me out. Odegbami gave me N18,000, while Omidiran also contributed for the team to be together. We went to Angola and won that match 3–1 but people did not understand what was going on.

What even helped us win convincingly in the second leg here in Nigeria was the fact that we trained for one week in Angola before returning to face all manner of distractions here at home. After the return leg in Abeokuta which we won 3–0 I screamed that this boys should not be decamped, knowing that we still have to play the Meridien Cup. But nobody listened to me.

So the boys were decamped, but I continued making efforts to make sure I bring them back together. I called Femi Karena, the the personal assistant to Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, and O’jez, who agreed to camp and feed us for eight days before we departed to Turkey. It was not surprising that we did poorly because you can’t go to a competition of this magnitude unprepared.
How can any magic be done, when we didn’t have the luxury of staying in camp for a month consecutively?

I put in everything I had, inspite of pressure from here and there to impose players on me.
I went to Benin Republic with 28 players and went to the Gambia with 18. Even at the last minute at the airport people were still bringing letters."

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