Super Eagles players during training before their international friendly matches against Algeria and Tunisia, last weekFollowing the not too impressive friendly games played by the Eagles during the international break, former international, Etim Esin, has advised the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to give players in the domestic league opportunity to blossom.
Nigeria had featured in two friendlies, losing 0-1 against Algeria and playing 1-1 against Tunisia ahead of their next month’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group L qualifier against Sierra Leone at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Edo State.
Esin advised the NFF that rather than wasting its energy combing Europe for players of Nigerian descent, they should shift their focus on exporting players to the world.
Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Esin stated that regardless of what some people are saying about the standard of the leagues, there still players in the mode of Daniel Amokachi, Finidi George, Austin Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo etc.
“In the two friendly matches we played against Algeria and Tunisia, they said they are only assessing players ahead of the AFCON qualifiers. I understand some fans are not pleased with the results from the two matches, they should also know that some of our key players, Victor Osimhen and Wilfred Ndidi and other regulars, were not part of the friendlies.
“My disappointment, however, is that the majority of the new players didn’t live up to expectation with the opportunity given them by the country to prove their worth. To me, aside from Frank Onyeka, who I saw some potentials in his brilliant runs against Tunisia, I think the NFF should start looking inward for the NPFL players to complement the regulars in the Eagles.
“Rather than bringing in rejected Nigerian descent players, who would have preferred to play for their countries of birth instead of Nigeria, we should start thinking of producing players, who will be household names in the world. My self from Flash Flamingoes of Benin, Daniel Amokachi from Ranchers Bees of Kaduna, Finidi George of Sharks of Port Harcourt, Austin JJ Okocha of Rangers, Kanu Nwankwo of Iwuanyanwu of Owerri and others were all discovered in the domestic league,” he said.
He added that the reason Clemens Westerhof succeeded in Nigeria was that he took the decision of putting his trust in the local league players when the regular Super Eagles player failed to show up due to needless demands.
“At a time when some of us playing in Europe were not available, Coach Westerhof called on Amokachi, Finidi, and others to replace the regular players for the country and they didn’t disappoint. Assuming these domestic players were not called to the national team how would they have been known let alone become famous playing for the country?
“Whether our league is well being organised or not, I still think there are players in our league who still possess the same quality if not more than some of us if only they are given adequate exposure like Westerhof and the late Coach Stephen did. Keshi for instance won the 2013 AFCON title in South Africa with at least about 40 per cent home-based players of the domestic league,” he stated.