By Philips Adefioye & Kate Obodo
Former African Footballer of the year, Victor Nosa Ikpeba says itâ€™s not surprising that no Nigerian player made the list of the five top Africa footballers nominated for the 2009 Glo_CAF award slated for Darkar, Senegal next year.
Ikepba was of the view that no Nigerian players were plying their trade with European big clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, stressing that they would have made the list if they featured for these big clubs. He added that a player like Osaze Odewingwie was enjoying a good season with club and country but did not made the list because he was not playing a big European club.
â€œIf they can play in the top clubs in Europe and their performances are exceptional, there is no way they cannot be mentioned among these top five nominees, the selection was not based on sentiments.â€
The former Monaco Prince hinted that Nigeria has wonderful players with great potentials but stressed that the problem was how to package them for big time competitions like the Nationâ€™s Cup in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa.
â€œWe have a problem with packaging our players. We have great players but we do not know how to make them produce results or attract people. Although, we score goals and win some crucial matches sometimes but our technical crew and even the players themselves have failed to find a solution to the problem.
â€œWe really need to do a collective work on the team. I believe itâ€™s gone beyond Shuaibu Amodu. The first thing the technical crew should do is to work on the strikers, then move onto the defenders and the midfielders; They need to know how to defend their goal area and even to score.â€
Concerning the issue of Amoduâ€™s sack, Ikpeba said after qualifying the Super Eagles to the Nationâ€™s Cup and the World Cup, Amodu should be left alone to continue but he quickly added that he will definitely be judged after the Nations Cup.
â€œIt is not going to be a tea party, if the Eagles fail to fly at the Nations Cup that is not to say that our World Cup outing will be poor, I think we need to go aroundÂ Europe because we have a lot of players there, who are playing in their club week in week out and extend invitations to them.â€
The former Standard Liege striker decried the consistent trips by NFF to London to see some senior players, adding that it was getting out of hand.
â€œWhy is it that these so called NFF board members always travel to London. Donâ€™t we have order countries in Europe that we have other players plying their trades? Why canâ€™t they go there and see the players?Â This trip to London is irrelevant, we have players in France, Portugal, Italy, Sweden and other part of Europe and why shouldÂ the board members be the ones to travel for a job meant for the technical committee?
We need a play maker in the team- Iroha
Former Super Eagles player Benedict Iroha has stated clearly the need for a playmaker in the senior national teamÂ that would compete against some of the best in the world atÂ next summerâ€™s competition billed for South Africa.
Iroha, a member of theÂ 1994 Nationâ€™s Cup winning squad, believes for anyÂ team to succeed, there should be aÂ Â good and combative midfielder. According to him, the team needs a playmaker, one who can hold the ball, distribute it, has good vision and can convert chances or produce a chance out of nothing. He said Nigeria needs someone in the mould of Argentina midfielderÂ Lionel Messi.
The Heartland FC coach said with a creative midfielder in theÂ team, there will be no problem with the teamâ€™s ability to create chances.
â€œI have said this long a time ago, that the team needs a playmaker. Nigeria has a rich pool of talented youth scattered in every nooks and crannies of the country. All we need to do is to inject a good midfielder,â€ Iroha said.
Reacting to the World Cup draws held last Friday, which saw Nigeria in Group B alongside Argentina, Greece, and South KoreaÂ Iroha said until after the Nationâ€™s Cup his prediction remain pending.
â€œLetâ€™s wait and see the outcome in the Nationâ€™s Cup. Letâ€™sÂ see how ready we are. I would not want to sayÂ Â if the team will survive or not. What I will say is that they need the Nationâ€™s Cup to get set for the big cracker in the forthcoming competition in June.