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Omokaro slams NFF over dependence on overseas-born players

By Alex Monye
05 April 2022   |   2:49 am
Former Nigerian international, Bright Omokaro, has placed the blame for Super Eagles’ inability to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup on the dependence on overseas-born players

Amaju Pinnick

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Former Nigerian international, Bright Omokaro, has placed the blame for Super Eagles’ inability to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup on the dependence on overseas-born players, saying most of the players don’t have the quality to play for the country.

He lamented that home-based players are not given the opportunity to challenge overseas-born players for national team shirts, saying such preferential treatment given to Europe-based stars accounts for the poor quality of the national team squad.

Omokaro, who supports the recent assertion by ex-Cameroun international, Samuel Eto, now the president of his country’s FA, that he would not celebrate any player born abroad in the national team, added that the Indomitable Lions idol knows what it means to raise formidable football teams.

Eto’o recently said he prefers to discover and groom players in his country to prove to the world that Cameroun still has stars in the domestic scene.

Omokaro castigated Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, for not emulating Eto’os vision and developing the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).

He said the current trend where players of Nigerian descent born overseas are begged to play for the country after being rejected by the countries of their birth, will continue killing the nation’s football if the right process is not put in place to select players for the national team.

“The Eagles’ failure to book the World Cup ticket is because there is no healthy competition in the team. The current Eagles are mostly made up of foreign-born players invited by coaches to get an easy ride to success.

“In the past, a player can’t get an automatic shirt in the Eagles… he has to fight for it with other players in his position.

“But now, the NFF does not pay attention to the NPFL and grassroots football anymore to discover talents. How will the Super Eagles develop with this nonchalant attitude?

“Samuel Eto’s position on grassroots football development is a pointer that he knows the importance of grassroots football growth.

“Pinnick does not understand this because he does not know anything about football. Failure to qualify for the World Cup has exposed the maladministration of the nation’s football.

“Retired internationals like me were discovered in Nigeria and I wonder why the NFF keeps neglecting the domestic scene, which used to be the foundation of the Super Eagles in the past.”

The Guardian recalls that Eto last week reaffirmed his commitment to developing stars from the grassroots in Cameroon, saying that the Indomitable Lions have no place for players rejected by European nations.

“I don’t wish to have Kylian Mbappe, born in Bordeaux, France, in our national team. Rather, I want to produce Mbappes from kids born in our neighbourhood in Cameroun because there are talents in our territory,” he said.

Meanwhile, Super Eagles’ immediate past goalkeepers trainer, Alloy Agu, has come under attack from football fans, who accuse him of spending more than five years in the national team without discovering any quality goalkeeper from the local leagues.

The fans, who said Nigeria would have fared better with tested locally-discovered goalkeepers, added that Agu was comfortable in his position that he failed to make the minimal effort needed to produce top goalkeepers.

One of the fans, Anayo Egwu, said poor goalkeeping cost Nigeria dearly in its two most important matches, adding, “Eagles would have beaten Tunisia at the Nations Cup if not for Maduka Okoye’s mistakes.

“The same thing happened against Ghana where Francis Uzoho gifted Ghana a goal that effectively stopped Nigeria from the World Cup. Yet, in all this, we had a goalkeeper trainer.”