Nigeria’s former International, Felix Owolabi, has frowned at the comment credited to Coach Gernot Rohr, that he did not see any player at the Aiteo Cup final good enough for the national team.
Rohr was at the Aiteo Cup final where Enugu Rangers defeated Kano Pillars on penalties after a thrilling comeback to lift the coveted trophy they last won 36 years ago.
The Franco-German coach reportedly said after the game that he couldn’t find a player good enough to fight for shirt with the ones he assembled regularly for national engagements.
But in a chat with The Guardian, Owolabi, who was part of the 1980 Green Eagles winning squad, said he blamed the coach’s statement on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), whom he queried never spelt out the details of his job.
Owolabi maintained that part of the duties of a national team coach should have included discovering potential talents for the future growth of the nation’s football rather than relying wholly on already baked players from abroad.
“I still insist that the future of a country’s football lies in the local league. By this, I will say that our administrators have failed us by not letting coaches handling our national teams know, understand and also realise that developing our local league through the invitation of players plying their trade in the local league is paramount to the development of our football.
“It is not enough for a coach to attend a game venue and conclude that he cannot find players in the league, who can replace the ones he current invites to the Super Eagles. And if that is his conclusion, I do not think he has any reason to remain as the coach of the Eagles.”
“It will be unkind of a coach to say that he was not interested in the boys playing in the local league because they are not good enough. It means they have failed in duties. Part of the problems was declaring Lobi Stars of Makurdi as winner of the NPFL with some matches left because you do not have a specified calendar year,” he said.
The former IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan star added that the lack of proper planning by NFF officials was the basis of the country depending solely on foreign-based players.
“A complete dependence on players abroad is simply because we do not have a programme, no structure. I believe a good coach will always identify potentials in the NPFL.”