Following the ouster of Plateau United and Kano Pillars from continental competitions by Simba FC of Tanzania and ASC Jaraaf of Senegal respectively in the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations Cup, tongues have started wagging.
Many commentators make mockery of the NPFL, the clubs but most especially the players who they say do not deserve to be called into the Super Eagles. They argue that the performance of both clubs justify Gernot Rohr's insistence that NPFL players are not good enough for his team.
I will start this issue with a question, Are you satisfied with the calibre of coaches handling our clubs presently? Don't get me wrong or hurriedly conclude that we lack indigenous coaches to handle Super Eagles. Far from that...
If yes that you are satisfied with the quality of coaches handling our local clubs, I dare ask, what are their antecedents? What are their pedigrees? What records do they hold? What had they achieved before now?
Can you compare them with their colleagues in the immediate past era? Kadiri Ikhana, Okey Emordi, Tony Ottah, David Adiele, Alfred Ekundina, Joe Erico, Godfrey Esu, Lawrence Akpokona, Sam Opone, Austin Ofokwu, Abdullahi Bebe, Jossy Lad, Monday Sinclair, Ganiyu Salami, Musa Abdullahi, Jossy Dombraye, Matthias Obianika, Emmanuel Ominu, Alphonsus Dike, Ufere Nwankwo, Paul Hamilton, Tunde Disu, Chris Udemezue, Alabi Aissien and Eto Amaechina among several others. Many of them are still around and ready to work but the clubs managers dread them because they "know a lot and won't cut sides". These are/were coaches who eat/ate football, sleep/slept football and live/lived for football.
Why is it that NPFL club administrators don't want to employ the likes of Mutiu Adepoju, Ike Shorunmu, Peter Rufai, Austin Eguavoen, Emmanuel Amunike, Finidi George, Emmanuel Osigwe, Sunday Oliseh, Samson Siasia, Peter Ijeh, Joseph Yobo, Taribo West, Victor Ezeji, Ahmed Abdulrahman and Ndubuisi Opara among others? These are products of above mentioned top quality coaches who could equally effect notable and laudable changes...unlike the present crop of "contractor coaches." But again the club managers don't want to employ them because "they are bigger than the clubs" or "unaffordable".
Club administrators and managers prefer to give jobs to those they can control who know little or nothing about the job. Coaches who want to use the club's to boost their CVs hence, they can collect peanuts as renumeration.
Have you bothered to critically examine the persons managing NPFL clubs or even the NPFL itself? Can you compare their experience and knowledge of the game with the likes of Late Chief Daniel Idama, Chief Nathaniel Idowu, Late Chief Lekan Salami, Chief Femi Olukanmi, Engr. McTony Taiwo, Late Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, Chief Teluwo, Engr. Nnamdi Ozobia, John Mastouroudes, Chief Jude Ezechukwu, Godwin Udoji, Adokiye Amiesimaka, Gloria Adebajo, Late Chief Adolphus Okafor, Chief Lemmy Akakem, Late Uche Ejimofor, and Late Chief Igbinomawhia Ekisouehi?
Aside few names like Davinson Owumi, Felix Anyansi and Mike Idoko among a couple of others the NPFL clubs would have been managed by bunch of inexperienced persons who lacked the knowledge of the game and the politics of the game especially at continental level. So how can they understand the workings of continental assignments?
Don't get me wrong, State Governments need to look deep, wide and far to recruit quality hands that will manage football clubs like pure money spinning business and not persons who see the clubs merely as a public relations tool of government. Clubs need real business managers cum administrators and not football enthusiasts. We have them here.
When League champions and FA Cup champions are determined across regional lines even before the first ball of the season is kicked...how do you expect true champions who would conveniently fly the country's flag in the continent to emerge?
When funds released by State Governments who own these clubs are sometimes inadequate...and most times mismanaged by those incharge of the clubs and players and coaches are owed catalogue of renumerations, how do you expect the best from such players especially when they meet better managed counterparts who are better motivated from other countries and Leagues in the continent?
What do you expect from a League that lacks private clubs participation? Virtually all the clubs in the NPFL are own and managed by State Governments. Days are gone when we had Leventis United, Abiola Babes, Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Flash Flamingoes, Concord FC, Stationary Stores, Eagle Cement FC, Kwara Stars FC, VIP Professionals, Nitel FC, NNB FC, ACB FC and First Bank FC.
What do you expect from a League without sponsor for close to four seasons? A league that scares away sponsors? A league that hardly pays players two hundred thousand naira (N200,000) monthly?
What do you expect from a league that the national team coach hates so much that he hardly goes to a venue to see or watch a game? A national team coach that has literally turned his back at players from this same league irrespective of how good they are or could be? A national team coach that doesn't encourage NPFL players?
So, it is not enough to mock the NPFL clubs for crashing out of CAF competition which has been the trend in the last five years or so....we should speak the truth and address most of these issues for a change of attitude across board....and for better outings and results in the future.
I so much believe in this league because it produced four African Footballer of the Year Kings in Rashidi Yekini, Emmanuel Amunike, Victor Ikpeba and Nwankwo Kanu. This same league produced Stephen Okechukwu Keshi who won the AFCON as a player and coach respectively. This league produced the Austin "Jay Jay" Okochas and John Obi Mikels of this world among other superstars. It has the potential of producing more and better players if professionally managed.
Photo Credit: Complete Sports