Our Football Is In A Mess - Okocha
Former Super Eagles captain, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, has decried the rate at with the Nigerian football is declining. The former Frankfurt midfielder lamented over the weekend that the Nigerian senior national football team (Super Eagles) are now a minnow in African football.
‘Jay Jay’, as he is fondly called, told reporters in Lagos that Nigeria needs to invest heavily in grassroots sports in general before she could rub shoulder with the big teams.
He also expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the Flying Eagles and the Super Falcons at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup respectively.
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He said: “We should first of all accept the fact that we are struggling at the moment. We need to sacrifice a few years and maybe go back to the grassroots and start from there. I don’t think we will benefit from being stubborn about it, claiming that we are still what we used to be.
“We are paying the price for failing to invest in the grassroots. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We just need to speak to ourselves and accept that we are no longer the football powerhouse that we used to be. We should put things in order.”
The former Bolton of England skipper also encouraged stakeholders to involve experienced ex-internationals in their strategy except they want to employ a foreign coach.
According to him, “It’s all about getting us involved. Showing interest and showing respect to some of us. If I may be a bit brutal, I think we are being neglected. As long as we don’t appreciate what we’ve got, we will keep suffering. Except we want to go out there and get foreigners. If we want our people, we should get the right people.
“There is no need for me to think I know it all. I’ve started from where it is hot, which is the state FA. I’m sacrificing my time and ideas to try and put things in order in the Delta State FA and see if I can grow from there – and maybe one day I can head the technical committee at the national level.”
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Okocha is a Nigerian former professional footballer who is widely regarded as the best Nigerian player of his generation. He is also known for his stepovers, skill, technique, and being 'so good that they named him twice'.