By Tony Ubani and Hauwa Ajisafe
FORMER Super brat, Etim Esin has confessed that he needs Nigeriaâ€™s qualification for the 2010 World Cup even more than the players. The ex-international who was christened â€œMaradonaâ€™ because of his monumental skills said that he would use the World Cup in South Africa to shot himself back to reckoning and therefore is begging the team not to toy with the qualification.
â€œThe World cup in Africa means so much to me because I want to be make quick money as a guest analyst for many pay TV channels. I need the money because the pay is going to be massive. For me to make the money, the Eagles must first of all qualify for the World Cup. I hardly sleep. I pray so often for the team to qualify and for me to find my levelâ€, Etim said.
He however noted with optimism that the Eagles have everything pointing their way to qualify. â€œAll they need do is to beat Tunisia in Abuja on September 6 and move over to the leadership of Group. But it is not going to be a tea party. Tunisia will fight and we must be wary and prepare wellâ€, he advised.
Asked if it was right for Coach Amodu Shuaibu to cancel friendly matches for fear of being beaten, Etim concurred. â€œWeâ€™ve played enough friendlies. Once in a while, you need to protect yourself from too much exposureâ€.
Speaking on the burning issue of whether former skipper, Austin Jay Jay Okocha should be allowed to come-back to the Eagles, Etim said that it was only Okocha who would save Nigerians the agony of the debate. â€œIt is only Okocha who can answer that question. He knows his mental and physical fitness level. He is still young. David Beckham is still playing actively. Okocha can still play.
There have been other fine players who came out of retirement to help their clubs or countries in difficult times. Maradona, Zidane, Roger Milla etc. If he knows he is still okay, he can keep fit and come back to rekindle the magic he is known for. I guess the problem in clamouring for Okochaâ€™s return is the dearth of a creative midfielder in the team. When I left the national team, Okocha stepped in and Nigerians forgot that I once existed.
It is so because Okocha was a perfect replacement who provided entertainment and scored fabulous goals. But since he left, things are no longer at ease. Everybody expected Mikel Obi to step into the shoes of Okocha but we have since discovered that the shoe is too big. Another factor is that Mikel has made it big in Chelsea. He earns a massive pay and there are no more challenges for him. Ordinarily, players go the extra mile to impress scouts to hit it big. He is big, alreadyâ€, Etim adduced.
He however called on coach Amodu Shuaibu to consider inviting Wilson Oruma to the Eagles. â€œOruma has shown character to take over from Okocha but I donâ€™t know why he is not being considered for the roleâ€.
The former dazzling midfielder also poured scorn on the Nigerian Premier League which according to him is making progress from behind. â€œItâ€™s sad to know that the highest goal scorer in the Nigerian League signed for a Tunisian Clubâ€. Akarandot Orok, fomerly of Akwa United scored 17 goals to equal Ishaya Jattauâ€™s 17-year-old record before being tempted away from Nigerian soil.
â€œIf our League is on the fast lane, our highest scorer should be moving into the bigger league and not an African league. That shows that we are not making progress. It is another pointer too that our national players are not as good as others with what we are seeing in the transfer market. Can you imagine Ike Uche one of our best players m