By Philips Adefioye
The Super Eagles have been warned that anythingÂ Â short of winning in the remaining World CupÂ qualifying matches would cost the country the hope of a berth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Former Green Eagles winger, Felix Owolabi, (MON), said in an exclusive interview with Saturday Vanguard sports that though the Super Eagle
s are still in contention forÂ the 2010 ticket, particularly after drawing with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia in Tunis, it does not mean thatÂ the second leg shouldÂ be toyed with in Abuja.
â€œThe Super Eagles are still in contention for the World Cup, particularly coming out from Tunisia with a scoreless draw. Our next match is against the same Tunisians and we hope that we will able to beat the Tunisians. The advantage that the Eagles have now is that they have been able to asses how these teams are.
â€œAveragely, I want to say that they are not better than the Super Eagles but only thing we need to do is to make sure we take every match that comes up seriously and win. Any thing short of winning will not give us any qualificationâ€.
Owolabi, fondly called OwoblowÂ in his playing days, therefore urged the Eagles to consider the nation first before anything , adding that the will to wear the countryâ€™s color should be their main priority.
â€œI have my reservations concerning the appointment of the Task Force. I want to say that the task force sees the Super Eagles players as a bunch of people who love money and for that reason believe that the only motivating factor that can help these players win matches and qualify for theÂ World Cup is money.
â€œBut the question is for how long will money continue to beÂ the yardstick to judge our performance as far is the Eagles are concerned. Does it mean the Super Eagles can only play well and win when there is money? What happens when there is no money? That is the danger but I want a situation whereby these players will put the love of the nation at heart first before moneyâ€. The One time Shooting Stars Football Club of Ibadan captain disagreed on the belief in some quarters thatÂ local players are not worthy of national team call-up, stressing that the futureÂ of Nigeriaâ€™s football lies in the local league.
â€œDavid Beckham as a player, an English boy did not fall from heaven. He was discoveredÂ from the youth team of Manchester United and from there he graduated to be a great player for England .The Felix Owolabi you are interviewing did not fall from the blues, I started from the local league.
I want to tell you one story, the last match Finidi George, that great winger played in Nigeria before he left for Europe, was against the Shooting Stars. Six months after, the same Finidi was ruling the whole of Europe when he joined Ajax and helped them win the European Champions League .
There are many examples I can give you. This is to tell you that we have good players in the local league, we have potentials, the only thing we need to do is for the coaches go round the country and begin to fish them out and make them greatâ€.