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Nigeria Pulls Out of Football Competitions Till 2012
The President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday ordered the country to withdraw from all football competitions until the year 2012. This is due to the poor performance of the country in the World Cup held in South Africa.
The president’s advice did not surprise me, considering the lack of performance of our teams recently. The last time they gave Nigerians a treat was in South Korea 2007, when the U-16 team conquered the world and returned with the trophy.
Our performance in Egypt 2009 (FIFA U-20 World Cup) was not satisfactory as we could not progress past the second round of the tournament which was eventually won by the Black Starlets of Ghana. Finally we received the U-16 national cup (Oct/Nov 2009) and lost to the first, Switzerland in the final; Let’s also not forget that we didn’t qualify for the tournament because we were kicked out by little-known Benin Republic, and we only got there as host nation.
Why Are Chances Declining?
Many factors have contributed to the decline of our national teams; I will mention only a few for the sake of time:
Corruption: This has remained a problem in our football as players are forced to pressure coaches and other people who hold high positions in the government. This story of loving God has helped our players not to do well, because those who are being followed by the bullies believe that no one can remove them from the team as long as God their father is still alive. So they don’t do their best because they didn’t go there properly but through the back door.
Quota System: The use of quota system in almost all walks of life has also affected our football because some areas/sections also have to support players whether they are suitable or not. Players were selected to play for national teams based on merit, skill and strength and not because of regions; but today back is the way it is.
Lack of continuity: Ghana is growing today because it has been able to complete their young talents instead of the old ones. But here at home, former players have been holding tight to the jerseys of the national team to prevent young people from completing their studies. How do we explain the situation where Kanu Nwankwo, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, John Utaka, Joseph Yobo, Rabiu Afolabi, and others still keep the permanent shirt in the team? Only Haruna Lukman is now playing for the Super Eagles while all his friends in South Korea – Rabiu Ibrahim, Yakubu Alfa, Oseni, and others are left. What happened to Coach Sampson Siasia’s Olympic team?
What Should We Do?
Governance: The old hands in the NFF should be removed and the former footballers should be in charge of our football. They can bring passion and commitment, unlike the people out there who just want money.
Continuation: Our young players who have excelled in various fields need to graduate to take on older players who are struggling to get fit: let’s rent a page in Ghana.
Suspension of remaining parts: Players are called up to national teams based on their merit and not because of the number of parts that are causing disharmony in the team.
Discipline: Our players must be disciplined; no one should be given a permanent shirt. Anyone who doesn’t do well should show a way out, and more volunteers will join.
Good development goals: Foreign teachers did not do well for us (except Clemence Westerhof and Otto Gloria). So let’s start developing our local coaches who will show commitment if they are chosen to work in our teams. Our football academies should also be organized to produce good players.
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