By George Onmonya Daniel
The Nigerian Super Eagles absence from the World Cup in Qatar speaks volume, a two hundred million population of super crazy football fans now watches the game and would have to support another country. Ghana drawing Super Eagles in Abuja that saw the ouster of the national team didn’t go down well with the Abuja fans and all the fans all over Nigeria, the Abuja fans would show their outrage by attacking the newly renovated stadium by destroying whatever they can. FIFA has banned that stadium for a while after that. But what is the problem with the Nigerian National Team?
I can tell you the problem lies in the complete neglect of getting talents locally. We now completely depend on foreign based players, especially players based in Europe even when they are not good enough to play for a team with the caliber and reputation of the Super Eagles.
The search for raw talent is no more. The Under 17 and Under 21 tournament that produced the likes of Kanu Nwankwo, Mikel Obi, Celestine Babayaro, Victor Ikpebe and most of the best talents that played for the Super Eagles, has been corrupted with their handlers looking for people who would pay to make the team than talent. This has completely killed the grassroots where these youngsters are found and groom and some had gone to conquer the world at the biggest of stages of the game. Now everything is money and the coaches are about that.
David Alaba of Bayern Munich, one of the best player in Europe, Champions league winner with Bayern Munich twice and Real Madrid recently, narrated how he came to play for Nigeria but his father was asked to bribe officials, the father would refuse. David Alaba is today the best player out of Austria playing for the Austrian team.
Recently there was a story where a DSS official asked a coach to remove one player and put his son in one of the Under 16 or 17 tournament that was held in Brazil. The father of the boy they removed went to the media. The Nigerian government or football association never bothered to investigate it. Nigeria would crash out early in the first round in Brazil.
Since they have killed grassroots football, Nigeria now depends on average players who were born overseas, rejected because of their talent they turn to play for the Super Eagles. Those who have something good to offer often turn down Nigeria. Some of these examples are Dele Ali, Abraham in Roma today, Saka of Arsenal and many more, so we are left with the ones European clubs have no use for. How can they win at the top stage?
Nigeria’s football problems can only be solved if Nigeria goes back to the grassroots and if Nigeria deals with the problems of corruption in the sports.