By Ifeanyi Marcus, Lagos
Following the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for Qatar 2022 World Cup, national chairman of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club Rev. Samuel Ikpea has suggested the setting up of quality home grown national team and avoid relying on foreign players who most of the time disappoint the country when it matters most.
In an exclusive interview with Nigerian Pilot Sports, he stated that it is high time the country stop relying on foreign based professionals whom he accused of not being patriotic enough when playing for the country.
” I have said it several times that we must stop the idea of relying 90% on certain professional players when we have important matches because they will fail us.
” Nigeria is a big country and nothing stops us from camping 100 to 200 gifted Nigerians for two years or more. When this is done, by the time you bring them out to play, they’ ve already understood themselves, know the body language of each other and will play as a team and I can bet you, with this system, we’ll get another crop of 1994 Super Eagles.
“It is not too big a thing for the country to do. These players when camped, will be paid monthly salaries and allowances which from my own calculation will not be up to a quarter of what we spend getting first class tickets for the foreign based professionals and lodging them in five star hotels, only to be disappointed at last.
He was emphatic that Nigeria should stop the idea of inviting all sorts of players to the national team simply because they play in Europe; saying that such system cannot work because they don’t have time to blend and understand each other.
On the implication of the country’s non qualification for the World Cup, he described it as enormous in both business and sports wise.
“The implication of Super Eagles not being at the World Cup is enormous. In the first place, a lot of football lovers all over the world who are expecting to see the team in Qatar either to watch them play or cheer them will not have opportunity to do so.
“Also in terms of business, a lot of businessmen who have started making business plans/ programmes believing that the country will be at the Mundial are now counting their losses. Also grant which runs into millions of dollars that would have been given to the country by FIFA was also lost which is a big blow to our football development.