Back Eagles tp pick 2010 ticket

By Eddie Akalonu
Ex- international,     Adokiye  Amisiemaka’s mates in Nigeria’s 1980 African Cup of Nations winning team, captain Christian Chukwu (CFR) and Charles Bassey (MON) both have taken divergent views on his suggestion that immediate past captain of the national team, Austin Okocha should be begged to return to the team to give it more bite in the 2010 World Cup campaign.


Both of them said in separate interviews that the inspirational player has given  his best to the country and would no longer be relevant to the team now.

Chukwu, who is the handler of his old team, Enugu Rangers International said “Except  Adokiye wants a role other than that of a player for Okocha, I don’t think Okocha can fit into the team again,” adding, “if he is saying that the FA should find him a role as motivator to the current players from the bench, that’s okay because there will always be need for such a former player who has achieved to render service like psyching up the players during matches especially at crucial times like the World Cup campaign. But as player, that won’t be necessary, I’m sure he (Okocha) too knows that and would agree to the fact.”

“Between the time of his retirement from the team and now, the Super Eagles as a team have undergone changes that he would find objectionable if he returns. There are new boys in the team, some far too young that their attitude may not be palatable to him. He has served his term. He won’t fit into the team anymore. However I’m in support of a role for him in another capacity,” he added.

Asked for reaction to the Eagles 2010 World Cup African campaign  in which Tunisia have a two point lead over Nigeria on the half way mark, Chukwu expressed optimism that Nigeria would have the last smile as fixtures of matches appear in her favour.

“The fixtures are such that gives all countries except Mozambique an open chance to go through. It’s the game against Tunisia in Nigeria that may hold the ace. Once we are able to beat Tunisia here I think we will also beat Mozambique. Kenya I don’t think would pose much threat, they may play for the Nations Cup ticket, not World Cup.”

Bassey, who phoned in from his base in Calabar to register his views on the raging issue said, “I would like to disagree with my esteemed colleague Adokiye on his suggestion. I don’t think that Okocha can play for this country anymore.

Has done his best already, it is such that many may find difficult to match and I’m happy that he retired when the ovation was loudest. He has played a very pivotal role for this country. So, any move by Okocha to return to the national team, I suspect, would end in a disaster. Let me remind us of a similar incident.  When we all retired from the national team after winning the Nations Cup in 1980, and the World Cup qualifiers came  the following year and we had problems with it, there was that call on Chukwu and (Emmanuel) Okala to return to the team by coercion.

Under pressure they bowed and I think it was Algeria or so that came here and dealt us a heavy blow in the process and we failed to go to the World Cup. The same people that sang his praise in victory all turned round to yell at him, forgetting about all he had toiled to serve the country in his playing years.

I see the same with an Okocha return. Even if the Eagles played a friendly game and lost, the outcry will be so loud, it would submerge all his contributions to the growth of football in our country,” Bassey stressed.

Speaking on the current World Cup campaign, Bassey who last coached Akwa United of Uyo after a stint with Wikki Tourists of Bauchi and as assistant coach of the national U-23 team was sure the country would qualify.

He however urged the NFF to arrange what he described as soft friendly matches for the team during the break. “I would like matches against African countries not Europeans, even if it is one or two, to keep the team in good shape for the last three matches,” he suggested.


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