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Clubs’ woes in Africa will continue until NFF grows NPFL, says Okala

By Alex Monye
10 December 2021   |   3:52 am
Former international goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala, is not surprised by Nigerian clubs’ poor performance in African inter-club competitions.

Emmanuel Okala

Former international goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala, is not surprised by Nigerian clubs’ poor performance in African inter-club competitions.

The former Enugu Rangers star, who won the defunct African Club Winners Cup in 1977, believes the country’s clubs are suffering the effects of poor management of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) and club managers’ selfish approach to teams’ affairs.

Speaking on the recent poor performances of Nigerian clubs, especially the early ouster of Akwa United, Kano Pillars and Rivers United from continental competitions, Okala said the better-organised North and Southern African teams would always have the edge over Nigerian teams because they are well equipped for international football.

Okala said the Nigerian league system has failed to give players the required organisation and technical preparation to challenge successfully the best teams in the continent.

He wondered how a Nigerian club would succeed in a highly competitive championship like the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup when the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) is on a permanent recess.

The former African Footballer of the Year said the maladministration of the Nigerian league by football administrators has totally killed the country’s football, adding, “Nigerian clubs’ failure in CAF competitions should be blamed on the structure of the League.”

According to Okala, “the teams are pitted against North African teams and clubs from well-organised leagues. The players are well monitored, paid and given the best technical support to excel.

“They have well planned football calendar. Their travelling routines for international games are top notch. Why will you expect a Nigerian team, which league is on break and not even organised like their counterparts, to perform magic at CAF engagements… it is not possible.

“I must commend Rivers United and Enyimba players for their efforts in making it to the preliminary stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.

“A good league produces quality teams. Things have to be done right in the local league for the situation to change.”

Okala said corporate bodies getting into the system could solve some of the problems, adding, however, that the club managers must change their attitude for that to happen.

“Sponsors don’t come into the system because over the years when they put their money into the league, they don’t see the result. This has kept some of them out of the league.

“Nigerian football is in a big problem now and the stakeholders in the game need to rally round to save it from total collapse.”