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In our days, parents discouraged their kids from playing football— Kpakor

By  Peter Duru in  Makurdi

Former BCC Lions FC    skipper, and one time,   Super Eagles playmaker, Moses  Kpakor spoke to Vanguard’s , where he bared his mind on nagging football issues.
Excerpts:

Kpakor
Kpakor

How is life after retirement?
Well, a lot has changed since then because in this part of  the world when you are no longer entertaining on the field  and you are not fortunate enough you will never be heard of again or remembered. Anyway, I’m grateful to God  that wherever I go there are still a few people who remember  me and would readily appreciate me for what I did for country through football, and that is a valuable consolation for me

How would you compare your days as a footballer and now?
In our days, most of us stubbornly became footballers  because our parents  did not want us to play football but  wanted us to be 100%  dedicated to our studies. And that in a  way built into us the resistance, determination and the  never say die attitude to success against all odds.

They  failed to realize that the game brought great joy to us. But  today the reverse is the case as parents are the ones  encouraging their children to play the game but  unfortunately a great number of them prefer other careers  even though they are good at football.

In addition, we were boys who all started the game in the streets and thereafter in the primary and secondary  school schools before landing big clubs, and that is the  power of ideal progression. That reminds me of a personal  experience in the national team. You see, I was first  invited to the national team in 1982 but could not make it  even though I was a bit good with just a few more years.

I  was again called up in 1984 and 1986, but still could not  play for Nigeria . But behold, came 1989 when I captained  BCC Lions FC to the F.A.   Cup  victory over Iwuanyanwu  National in Bauchi with that excellent performance, “The  captain’s stuff”. And finally in 1990, at the ECOWAS Cup  in Bauchi I wore the green white green colours for the first  time after eight years of patient apprenticeship. That is  how to develop players. In most cases and most of us were  developed in this manner, but how many of our players today  would be ready to wait that long? Every body wants to be  invited into camp to play for Nigeria despite their  inexperience.

Like I said earlier, we were footballers who combined  the game with academics and that also helped us in no small  measure in assimilating what our games masters and later our  coaches taught us. We were also taught to be disciplined  irrespective of one’s ingenuity and we were warned that  players who lack discipline do not go very far in the game,  and we used to see a lot of them and learnt to be humble.

We  were also held accountable for poor results in our days and  it gave us added determination to approach the next game  with seriousness in order to prove ourselves, but  unfortunately, today the coaches are the ones held  responsible for the team’s poor showing and this has made  today’s  players innocent of the outcome of a match that they played for  90 minutes.

Compare the Eagles of your time and now…
Just as I earlier on observed, there is always a battle  between the past and the present, and throughout history it has been proved that it is the present that fights a losing  battle because it is the past that helped to improve both the present and the future. Most  of the past national footballers had played at the top level  in the local league and had the opportunity of playing  continental football against the best of teams on the  continent and were enormously exposed and experience too.

Today we have players that don’t have any experience of  African football and whenever they are on national duty  against teams like Cameroon , Togo , Tunisia etc, and they  do not have the slightest idea of the natural or typical  Togolese football.

Again, because most of us played together and played  against each other for a long time, we were able to  understand our different strengths and weaknesses and even  when others went abroad, whenever they came for national  duties that bond was still intact. Our players today did not  play together and most of them are training together just  four days to a game and after the game they are gone to  their respective leagues. That is why I would always voice
for a home based Supper Eagle, but I think we have not been  serious about it yet.

The home based Eagles would also want to play abroad and how would you deal with that?
Quite simple, in principle I agree, but I know that in  reality it’s not going to be easy. That not withstanding,  we all need to honestly come together in tacking this issue  because there are no longer stars in the league compared to  our days. Your league can only attract serious investment if  there are stars in it, at that point all investors would not  be able to resist investing in it.

One way is for government  to do something about the decree 101 and after that the  Nigeria Football Federation NFF and the Nigeria Football  League NFL would both sit together and come out with ideas  that would protect the Nigerian player form the European  football slavery.

For example, we could come out with an age limit that a player would get to before he can play abroad,  or the  number of years a player should attain before he will be  free to play abroad. But these laws must not be seen to be violating the right of anyone. I am only giving an example which could be in the right direction for our football, for  the clubs and for the players too.

Let me give an example, John Mikel Obi went to Manchester United and I am aware of a lot of things that  happened, but unfortunately at the end of the saga both  Manchester United and Oslo Club got a whopping ?15m from Chelsea as compensation. This money  ordinarily should have gone to Plateau United who owned  Mikel. Why would these two European clubs cheat Nigerian  football of what belonged to us? Because there is no  legislation in place and I believe it is about time  something is done in that direction.

Having played under Amodu, do you think he is good enough for the Eagles?
For me, Amodu Shaibu is the best active coach in this  country at the moment and his credentials are always there  for anyone to see, especially his critics. I know there are  some of the opinions that because Amodu did not play for the  national team and for that reason he lacks the tactical  know-how to handle the Eagles.

Reasons like these are just sentimental and they  cannot be found in any football book.
Anyone of us who played for this country knows in his  heart that there were better players than him who did not  have the chance to play for the national team. We were only  privileged that a particular coach liked our style and not  because we were better so why would anyone of us come out  today to think he was better than another player simply  because he did not play for the national team?

On reflection, in any country you would always see  players that really had nothing to do with their national  team football, but they were eventually there, simply  because the coach saw one thing in him that he liked and not  because he was the best to man that wing in the  country.

So, for some of us who were privileged to play under  Amodu, we have no doubt about his tactical ability,  knowledge of football and his personal level of education  which has earned him numerous laurels.

Remember that Amodu  was the first coach that won the modern day F A Cup for  Northern Nigeria in 36 years when BCC Lions beat Iwuanyanwu  Nationale 1-0 in 1989. Prior to this time, Kano xi had won  the trophy in 1953 when it was called the Governor’s  Cup.

Amodu also became the first indigenous coach to win  the African Cup of winners’ cup in 1990 when the legendary  BCC Lion of Gboko roared to a convincing victory 3-0 home  win and 1-1 away draw. Nigeria ’s previous winners were  IICC Shooting Stars in 1976 and Rangers International in  1977, but both teams were then coached by foreign coaches.

Amodu also won the African Cup of Winners runner_up medal in  1991 and added three more FA Cup trophies to his Kitty;  El_Kanemi Warriors, 1992 and BCC lions 1993 and 1994, and also one league title 1994 and three super cups in 1990,  1994 and 1995.

More than that, Amodu became the first Nigerian coach  to qualify this country for the world cup in 2002. In fact,  that particular qualification was historic because it came  at a time that everybody in this country gave up hope and  the expatriate coach, Bonfere Joe was sacked.

This was the  only time in my life that I saw our great country lose hope.
But thanks to Amodu Shaibu we were finally there, even  though he himself was not to appear there. Does anyone  remember that it was Amodu Shaibu who assembled the Atlanta  96 team from the beginning to the last minute? Before I  forget, Amodu won this country a third place in Mali 2000 in  his first attempt at the tournament.

I don’t think that   someone with such credentials and enormous experience  could be a mediocre as some people are suggesting. To  conclude on Amodu, let me say that he has been very  consistent and that is why today he stands as the only coach  who has been saddled with national responsibility on three
different occasions and by three different football  boards.

What is your view on the  Presidential Task Force for the Super Eagles?
Honestly, I think the Nigeria Football Federation needs  every support and concentration to finish up the good job  they have started since the departure of German coach, Berti  Vorts. For the task force I express my profound support for  them and I thank Mr. President for his vision which has  shown that he has interest in football and he is also  concerned. which makes it more commendable.

But from the  look of things it’s like this good vision of Mr. President  may at last prove to be the bullet that has shot down the  Eagles as some of the members of the task force are already  claiming credit for themselves to some extent and this is  glaringly turning the vision into a distraction for the  Nigeria Football Federation.

So my personal and candid  advice to the force is for   them to function quietly in anticipation of when the  President would call them and say to them “thank you”  for a job well done, that would be their day of honour and  pride, but not what is presently happening in the camp of   our rejuvenated Super Eagles. And to the NFF, they should  remain focused and not lose concentration bearing in mind  that anything of such could be disastrous.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.