By Kate Obodo
Former Super Eagles midfielder Etim â€˜Maradonaâ€™ Esin has deferred on the call for or against Austin Jay Jay Okocha to return to the national team to fill the seeming vacuum created by the retirement of the former Bolton Wanderers captain.
Esin who was recently embroiled in a bitter warÂ with Okocha over an alleged stolen handset belonging to the latter, said talents abound in the country who can fit into the midfield of the Super Eagles.
Esin, who was labelled superbrat during his playing days for flouting camp rules both at club and national team levels said Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi, himself turning a superbrat for his penchant to shun national team call-up, is a very good player who just needed to be well groomed
According to him, Chelsea Midfielder Mikel Obi â€œcan fit into the midfield well and with proper training and directives from the coach, he would go along way. It is all about grooming him and others for the task ahead,â€ adding however that the decision to return to the national or not was entirely that of Okocha.
â€œFor me if Okocha still wants to come back fine, but this depends solely on him. He decides what he wants. But I feel we have players who are also creative midfielders. Mikel is one good player who can do the job, it is just a matter of time. It is not an easy task but with time things will definitely work out for the team.
â€œI believe every body has his own era. Like I said, it is just a matter of proper training and with time things would turn out for good. What the players need now is training and dedication for us to pick the 2010 World Cup ticket and with God on our side,Â we will qualifier,â€ he added.
The debate for Okochaâ€™s return was sparked off by former Green Eagles winger, Adokie Amiesimaka who lamented the absence of a midfield motivator in the mould of Okocha and therefore called on both the Presidency and the Nigeria Football Association (NFF) to talk Okocha into returning to play at the 2010 World Cup if the Eagles qualify.
Since then various reactions either for or against Okochaâ€™s return have poured in from fans, administrators and ex players alike, with Emmanuel Amuneke and Emeka Ezeugo advising that he be left out of the Eagles.
Last week however, the man in the storm, Okocha, broke his silence on the matter saying that â€œit feels good to feel wanted.â€ He added that â€œthe call makes me feel proud of what I have achieved.â€
Though he said he doesnâ€™t feel like coming back to active football, he added that it would be difficult for him to turn down President Umar Musa Yarâ€™Adua if he decides to talk him into returning, stressing that it would only take him six months to return to match fitness.