Stop blaming Akpeyi for Eagles’ AFCON failure, Okpala tells Rohr
• ‘Sentiments killing Nigeria football development’
Nigeria’s Former Captain, Sylvanus Okpala has advised Super Eagles’ Coach, Gernot Rohr to stop blaming goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi for the team’s defeat by Algeria in the semifinal of the Egypt 2019 Nations Cup.
Reacting to the recent comment by Rohr, who blamed Akpeyi’s positioning for Eagles’ ouster at the Nations Cup semifinals in Egypt, Okpala said the coach Rohr should take the responsibility for the team’s tactical deficiencies.
Okpala said Rohr’s excuse that he is building a young team after failing at the World Cup and 2019 Nations Cup has become a normal exercise, adding that it does not allow his employers to critically assess the performance of the Super Eagles after major championship.
Saying that he was not witch-hunting the Franco-German coach, Okpala urged him to own up to the team’s lapses after a major championships win stead of singling out a player.
“During my days as a footballer, I was a free kick specialist for the Eagles. The Algerian player, Riyad Mahrez is a talented free kick player. He picked his angle and took accurate shot to hit his target. This can beat any keeper in the world.
“Mahrez has always been scoring free kicks from difficult positions, so scoring against Akpeyi should not be a big news. What Rohr should be talking about is the deficiency in the Eagles at the 2019 AFCON.
“People should not think I am castigating Rohr because I am interested in his job. I respect him as a coach. But from my own standpoint as a ex Eagles player and now a coach, I believe the excuse the coach gives any time he fails in a championship is uncalled for. For how long will he be saying he is building a young team?” he asked.
On the national U-23 team, Okpala said the appointment of Imama Amapakabo as the team’s head coach, the CHAN Eagles, as well as Super Eagles assistant coach, is a total departure from the norms in Nigeria’s football administration.
He said the the CHAN Eagles defeat by Togo in the WAFU Championship and the AFCON qualifier in Lome showed that the team was not adequately prepared.He added: “When also looking at the appointment of Amapakabo as the coach of Nigeria’s three national teams, you will understand that there is sentiments in the way football is administered in the country.
“Is it that there are no credible coaches in the country any more or that the NFF cannot pay other coaches to handle the teams? These are questions begging for answers.“If the NFF cannot caution Rohr on the over -emphasis on overseas-based players, they should appoint credible coaches to handle the other national teams and also clear their house of the different issues that is stopping sponsors from investing in the Nigerian league. Sentiments,”
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