By KATE OBODO
Having led Heartland of Owerri FC to a tremendous and memorable victory in the 2011 Federation Cup, the first in 18 years, technical adviser Lodewjk De Kruif has not stopped appreciating the amount of talented players Nigeria has, which has caused him to share his view on how the country can be a top football power house in the near future.
“Nigeria is blessed with a rich pool of talented players and could have been among the best in the World if football is handled by genuine people”, de Kruif told Saturday Vanguard Sports, during the week
He said the management of football should be run by broad-minded people with a sound knowledge in the game and above all, those who have the love of the country at heart.
He believes that if the country has people like former Super Eagles handler, Christian Chukwu, whom he has worked with since his arrival in Nigeria, at the helm of affairs, the country’s football will go places.
“If Nigeria has people like Chukwu ,the country’s football will grow beyond what it is now. Not everybody knows the rudiments or what it takes to manage football but because of selfish reasons every body’s focus is on football only for their pockets. But if Nigeria has about two to three persons like Chukwu, things will turn out better, because the country is blessed with talents, who could make the country proud,” Kruif who hails from Holland said.
Reflecting on Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations, de Kruif said, “ for every person who is involved in Nigerian football, it is a disaster, especially ,when there is a rich pool of talents in this country with great potential. It is very disappointing,that players are not going to showcase their talents in a big tournament like the Nations Cup.
“But then, that means Nigeria has to start planning for the future now. I am talking about good plans, to take charge of the situation, so that it will never happen again. This means that, Nigeria must educate her players, and make good plans for them ; a long-term plan just like we do in Holland. These are plans that will encourage the development of players through football academies, educate players from age 11, 12 years old and also make very good plans on age group categories.
“The objective is to have good players who can go into the national team eventually when they are 20 years old. By then, they must have known what to do and how to play. Also as a coach, you should have a very good sight on what is good and what is not.
It will help in terms of selection and scouting players and also bring your team to a high level. It is very important for the Nigeria Football Federation and for the technical committee. It is a very big opportunity to start restoring Nigeria’s past glory in football.” he added.