Onyekuru, Umar, eight others in Eagles’ Camp
Hiring Another Foreign Coach An Insult To Nigerians, Says Owolabi
The number of players in the Super Eagles’ camp, yesterday rose to 10, as the Coach Augustine Eguavoen-led squad intensifies preparation for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), holding between January 9 and February 6 in Cameroun.
This is as former international, Felix Owolabi, has expressed deep regrets over the hiring of another foreign coach for the team, a development he was an affront on Nigerians.
The 10 players that have now registered their presence in the Eagles’ camp include Francis Uzoho (AC Omonia, Cyprus); Henry Onyekuru (Olympiacos, Greece); Peter Olayinka (Slavia Praha, Czech Republic); Chidozie Awaziem (Alayanspor, Turkey); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa); Sadiq Umar (UD Almeria, Spain); Olisa Ndah (Orlando Pirates, South Africa); John Noble (Enyimba FC), and Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin, Germany).
The three-time African champions will open their glory chase at AFCON when they meet seven-time winners, Egypt on January 11 in Group D that also includes Sudan and debutant, Guinea Bissau.
The NFF had in a release disclosed that Coach Jose Peseiro would now be new Super Eagles’ head coach after the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). This, the statement said, resulted from a “careful consideration of a memo presented by Chairman of the Technical and Development Sub-Committee, which led to the executive committee to act.
Despite this development, Owolabi, while speaking to The Guardian said it was unfortunate that the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF has continued to act without due consultation with those that should advise it wisely on the way forward after Gernot Rohr’s infertile years.
“For Pinnick to still think that we have no qualified coach to handle the Eagles means either there is something wrong with the system, or the person that is in charge of our football. It is an affront on the Nigerian society that in this century we are unable to find our feet in the game.
“The late Coach Stephen Keshi in 2013 proved a lot of people wrong when he led the Eagles to beat the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire- the favourites for the AFCON. In the quarterfinal match against Cote d’Ivoire, I remember that some NFF members wrote off our team and left the venue because Eagles was meeting the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire.
“Today, it is history that our third title at the AFCON was achieved by an indigenous coach. And here we are with the NFF president still telling us that we don’t have a Nigerian coach to handle the Eagles when we have many of them who can do it. With what has happened, you are forced to ask yourself what pedigree that Amaju has to rubbish our coaches.
According to Owolabi: “It is sad that we have such a person in charge of our football. I have said it several times that the money Rohr got in five years as salary would have been used to bring back to life, the Ibadan Liberty Stadium and National Stadium in Lagos. That Pinnick is the head of the football federation does not necessarily mean that he has to be all in all. I think the sports ministry must check his excesses.
“We must learn a lesson from other countries that have decided to look inwards. Take for instance, in Senegal, one man (Coach Aliou Cissé), has been in charge of their national team for some years now and he is doing well.”
Owolabi also blamed the NFF for the poor state of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL), saying: “This is the time that we should make use of talents in our local league and get the best team for the country. If we fail to look at our league, it will be catastrophic for our football development, and we may never get our bearing in the nearest future.”