By Jacob Ajom, Solomon NwokeÂ & John Egbokhan
Veteran coach and former Nigerian international, Paul Hamilton, has described Nigeriaâ€™s eliminationÂ by Niger from the second African Nations Championship as unfortunate and regrettable.
Speaking with Sports Vanguard, the former national team handler said the blame should be shared by all those who contributed in one way or the other to Nigeriaâ€™s humiliation by a football minnow like Niger.
â€œItâ€™s now on record that Nigeria could not beat Niger in a two legged fixture. That we were beaten 2-0 in the first leg makes it even pathetic,â€ Hamilton said.
He was of the observation that the players were assembled late for the competition, asking, â€œwhen were the players called to camp? When did the NFF know of CHAN? Was it after the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola?
â€œThe entire arrangement was flawed from the beginning as the players were rushed to camp before the first leg following the confusion in the Glass House on who would coach them after the Nations Cup in Angola. After the first leg, we heard the team was overhauled. How do you overhaul a team in two weeks?â€ he asked.
Hamilton would not spare coach Daniel Amokachi whom he described as â€œtoo inexperiencedâ€ to handle the national team. Said he, â€œfootball coaching is an honourable profession. People must prove what they claim they are. The young ones must learn to be patient so they can learn the ropes,â€he advised.
Similarly, the man who took the Super Eagles to the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup, Adegboye Onigbinde, attributed Nigeriaâ€™s crash in the CHAN qualifying rounds to the faulty structures in the football house.
â€œÃ submit that the players are not at fault over the ouster by Niger Republic because they did what they could do. If you are not satisfied with both the home-based and the foreign-sed, then who else are you going to rely on?â€ he asked sarcastically.
Onigbinde said â€œthe problem lies with the faulty Nigerian football structure and nothing more, nothing less,â€ adding, â€œthe players are there but the structure is faulty and that is what we have to address.â€
Also, former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Sani Toro, described Nigeriaâ€™s elimination by Niger Republic, in the qualifying round of the African Nations Championships as a national disgrace which must be probed to prevent another reoccurrence in the future.
â€œThis is a national tragedy, a national calamity and an international disgrace that Nigerians have been subjected to again by our national team. I just cannot understand how our boys would be unable to beat Niger Republic in our country. It is simply unbelievable and unimaginable that we cannot score a goal against a team from Niger.
â€œIn all honesty, it is difficult to pinpoint what actually went wrong over the two legs against Niger Republic, who are considered football minnows, but one thing that is clear from this shame is that our football needs to be salvaged from this slump.
â€œA probe of the team should be carried out quickly by our football authorities and the National Sports Commission, to get to the root of this seemingly intractable decline that is plaguing our game. This setback cannot be allowed to go just like that because two years back, we failed to qualify for the maiden edition of this same competition in Ivory Coast and at the end, we sacked coach Okey Emordi and his assistants but the same scandal has resurfaced.
Former head of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) Technical Department , Coach Kashimawo Laloko described the countryâ€™s ouster from the African Nations Championship (CHAN) by tiny Niger Republic on Sunday as a national disgrace.
He said the poor showing was as a result of neglect on the well experienced coaches by the nationâ€™s football authority who prefer the younger generation of coaches to the â€˜oldâ€™ guards who are tested on the job.
â€œI am not surprised that Nigeria lost out of the CHAN qualification by Niger Republic, but I tell you that if Nigeria lost after a goalless second leg after a 2-0 loss in Niamey in the first leg with Niger of all countries, thatâ€™sÂ a national disgrace.
And it is because the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been discarding what they regarded as old coaches with experience for the younger ones who just stopped playing not too long ago. We have coaches like Joe Erico, Ben Duamlong in the list of rich experienced coachesâ€