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Nigeria’s U-17 World Cup ouster mirrors state of grassroots football, say Obuh, Izilien


Flamingoes. PHOTO:

Former national U-20 coach, John Obuh and ex Super Falcons manager, Godwin Izilien have charged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to revamp the grassroots football development structure to avoid such avoidable disasters like the country’s failure to qualify for the FIFA U-17 Women World Cup.

Obuh described the Flamingoes’ failure to qualify for the U-17 World Cup after its 1-1 draw with Cameroun in Yaoundé at the weekend as disappointing, but cautioned against apportioning blames to the girls for not booking the ticket.

He advised the NFF to see the Flamingoes failure in the qualifiers as a call to arms, which requires paying more attention to youth football development.

The former national U -17 coach also advised that the period from now to the next major competition should be used to reorganise the Nigeria football development plans at all levels.

“This is not the period to start blaming anybody. We should not dwell on the Flamingoes’ failure to beat Cameroun and book the World Cup ticket. Rather, the NFF should go back to the drawing board to review the football development programme in the female and male categories.

“The Flamingoes would have done better assuming the NFF had a platform where the U16 team have been training for a long while before the qualifier. You cannot build a solid team under a few months. It has to go through processes. The lesson of all this is that the NFF need to look more inwards to develop a viable youth system at both the male and female level,” he said.

In his submission, Izilien charged the NFF to employ well-groomed coaches to discover and nurture youths from the grassroots level, saying that the U-17 and U-20 teams are the bedrock of the national team.

“I knew the Flamingoes would not qualify after the 2-2 score line at home. Nigeria’s female football needs total overhauling from the grassroots. If there were no quality youth system the result would be total failure. The Flamingoes would have excelled if they where assembled earlier enough. The girls also lacked the winning mentality. That is why the NFF should see this as a lesson to urgently seek to reorganise Nigerian football, “ he said.

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