Stakeholders’ summit will address Super Eagles’ dwindling fortunes — Owolabi
Former international, Felix Owolabi, has called for a stakeholders’ meeting to address football’s decline in the country after the Super Eagles failure to qualify for the Qatar 22 World Cup.
According to him, football authorities must be circumspect in hurriedly engaging another coach for the Super Eagles, as that would be tantamount to putting the horse before the cart.
Nigeria failed to book a spot at the Mundial after Ghana’s Black Stars carried the day on away goal rule.
Speaking to The Guardian, yesterday, Owolabi said: “Let us accept that we all failed in our duties to ensure that the Eagles qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. Even though the players have their side of the blame, the stage to provide the best forum for the country’s talented players was absent.
“This is a bitter lesson for the administrators, who never gave a level-playing field to all Nigerian players to compete for a place in the team. Majority of the players invited to camp got their jerseys on a platter of gold, and therefore felt on top of the world,” he said, adding that the media, football agents, and some individuals played key roles in the botched World Cup expedition.
“I know that some foreign-based players invited to the Eagles in the past few years were based on the influences of the media, football agents, and the rest of them. Even though these players are good in their right, but most are average players as far I am concerned. I thought it is only when players are doing well in their club sides that they are invited to the national team, where they are expected to do well. But what we see in the camp are benchwarmers, and we expect them to perform wonders because they are foreign-based!
“If we are now crying that we could not get result despite using all foreign-based players against Ghana, couldn’t we have achieved a better result if we had a mixture of foreign-based and domestic league players? He asked.
Owolabi, who holds a doctorate in physical education continued: “What I am seeing now in our football is that we are only competing and not developing. Our administrators are only interested in competitions, and the more you go into competitions, the more you are destroying the structure because there won’t be a template to develop the game at the grassroots.
“In the recent draws that were made by the CAF for clubs in Africa, you can imagine that there was no single one from Nigeria. This alone should tell us the position of our domestic league on the continent. Yet, when you read our newspapers, watch television, or listen to radio stations, you will think that our league is one of the best in Africa.
“How can our league be one of the best in Africa when two to three players from our league cannot make it to the Super Eagles? The failure of our domestic league players to make it to the Super Eagles means that there shouldn’t have been a league in the first place. I think that this is the best time to come to a round table and discuss the way forward for our football before we employ another foreign coach for the Eagles,” he stated.