Super Eagles handler Gernot Rohr has contantly come under attack for not inviting players plying their trade in the Nigeria Premier Football League into his mainstream squad but he has received support from a retired international for his decision to stick with established stars abroad.
Former Green Eagles star, Felix Owolabi, has given a thumbs down to the organisers of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) over the late kick-off of the 2029/20 season, stating that has long as the local league is shabbily handled, it would be difficult for its players to make the Super Eagles team.
Coach Gernot Rohr recently released a list of 23-man squad to prosecute the AFCON 2021 qualifying games against Benin and Lesotho, with only Heartland’s Ike Ezenwa based in Nigeria.
Owolabi, a member of the Eagles that won the Africa Nations Cup in 1980, stated that the state of the local league is justification for Rohr’s snub.
“We are just starting the league when others started some months ago and everybody is enjoying watching what is happening in Europe today. Sports, especially football, drive the economies around the world today,” Owolabi told The Guardian as observed by Soccernet.ng.
“Go to Spain. What is the economy of Spain? It is football that drives everything there, even in England.
“For as long as we do not have a good structure on the ground to create the enabling environment for our youths to bring out their potential and their natural endowments, we will continue to be failures.
“We can only make it once in a while but not every day. And that is why there has always been this fire brigade approach in everything we in sports,” he said.
“We don’t discover talents again. The era of discovering players is long gone.
“To some extent, you will have to agree with Gernot Rohr who has decided to rely on identified players in Europe whether they are good enough or not.
“If he has decided to ignore the NPFL players completely, will you blame him?
“As home-based players, Nigeria will beat Togo by several goals in our days. My heart bleeds when I read on the pages of newspapers Coach Imama Amapakabo saying he would rely on foreign-based players to win the ticket to the Olympics in Egypt. You can imagine a local coach saying that. It is a disgrace,” he stated.