An ex-Super Eagles assistant coach has advised the Nigerian football body to stop soliciting players to play for the national team, which has been blamed for the squad’s poor performance on international stages.
Former Super Eagles assistant coach Sylvanus Okpala has explained why the Nigeria Football Federation should not ask foreign-based players to play for the Super Eagles.
He disclosed to the Guardian that Nigeria as a nation has a lot of brilliant individuals to pick from who can also inspire Nigerian eligibles to play for the country without being forced.
He said that when players are under pressure to play for their nation, their level of dedication to play for their country suffers.
The 61-year-old asked the NFF and those in charge of the national team, however, to cast a critical eye on any foreign-based players and not beg them to play for the Super Eagles.
“One thing that must be corrected for the Super Eagles to return to it’s glorious days is, for coaches and the NFF not to beg any player to play for the team. When a player turns down the offer of playing for the Super Eagles, he should be left alone,” the former Enugu Rangers player told the Guardian.
Okpala, who represented Nigeria in the 1980 and 1988 Summer Olympics, identified the problem with Nigeria’s national team as a consequence of certain players being asked to play for the Green-White-Green colour.
“A player can’t give his best to the team if he is pressurized to play for the Super Eagles.” he remarked.
He said, “Commitment level of players is very important in a team. Even if you have the eleven best players in one team, and there is no 100 per cent team spirit, the team will not succeed. Begging players to play for Nigeria is one of the factors that is killing the Super Eagles. We have talents everywhere that can motivate any overseas-born player to play for Nigeria.”
The Super Eagles side, led by Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro, has clearly not been at its best so far, having lost the 2022 World Cup tickets to Ghana and exiting the AFCON 2021 early.
Several Super Eagles veterans, as well as the Nigerian sports community, have expressed concern that the Super Eagles players lack patriotism and devotion.