2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Pc Requirements Nigeria Pulls Out of Football Competitions Till 2012

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Nigeria Pulls Out of Football Competitions Till 2012

Nigerian President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday ordered that the country should withdraw from all football competitions until 2012. This is as a result of the country’s poor performance in the ongoing World Cup in South Africa.

The President’s directive did not surprise me given the lackluster performances of our teams recently. The last time they gave Nigerians something to cheer about was in South Korea in 2007 when the U-16 team conquered the world and returned with the trophy.

Our performance in Egypt 2009 (FIFA U-20 World Cup) was less than satisfactory as we could not progress beyond the second round in a competition which was eventually won by the Black Starlets of Ghana. Finally, we hosted the U-16 World Cup (October/November 2009) and lost in the final to the first-timers, Switzerland; we should also not forget that we did not qualify for the competition as we were knocked out by the little known Benin Republic and we only got there as the host nation.

Why The Dwindling Fortunes?

Many things have contributed to this downward spiral of our national teams; For the sake of time, I will mention only some of them:

Corruption: This has remained the bane of our football as the players are imposed on the coaches by certain people who are high up in the government. This question of divine paternity has largely contributed to the lackluster performance of our players because those backed by these cabals believe that no one can ever remove them from the team as long as their god fathers are still alive. They don’t give their best because they never got there by merit but by the back door.

Quota System: The use of quota system in almost all walks of life has also affected our football as certain areas/zones also have to contribute players whether they are fit or not. Players used to be selected for national teams based on merit, skill and fitness, not geographical affiliation; but today it is the opposite.

Lack of continuity: Ghana is growing stronger today because it has been able to graduate its young talents and replace the aging ones. But in our case, the old players tenaciously held on to the national team jerseys and prevented the young ones from graduating. How do we explain the situation where Kanu Nwankwo, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, John Utaka, Joseph Yobo, Rabiu Afolabi etc still keep the normal jersey in the team? Only Haruna Lukman is now playing for the Super Eagles when all his teammates in South Korea – Rabia Ibrahim, Yakubu Alfa, Oseni etc have all been left out. Also, what happened to coach Sampson Siasia’s Olympic team?

What should we do?

Administration: The old hands in the NFF should be flushed out and ex-footballers should administer our football. They would bring passion and commitment, unlike today’s people who are after money.

Continuity: Our young players who have done well at various levels should be trained to take on the role of aging players struggling for fitness: we should borrow a leaf from Ghana.

Foot Quota System: Players should be invited to national teams purely on merit and not on the basis of a quota system that brings mediocrity into the teams.

Discipline: Our players should be subject to discipline; no one should be guaranteed a permanent shirt anymore. Anyone who is failing needs to be shown the way out and more devotees brought in.

Good development plans: We didn’t do too well with foreign coaches (except Clemence Westerhof and Otto Gloria). We should therefore start developing our local coaches who would show more commitment if they were entrusted to lead our teams. Our football academies should also improve to produce quality players.

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