By Kate Obodo
Former Technical Director in the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, Kashimawo Laloko has said that the current crop of players coach Stephen Keshi is working on are capable of replicating the success of the past, if he continues the rebuilding process with more local players.
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard Sports at the closing ceremony of the maiden edition of the Nigeria Academicals Football Championship held last Sunday in Ibadan, the Technical Director of the Pepsi Football Academy in Ogun State, said the the performance of the Eagles so far shows that sooner than later, the era of foreign-based players would be over.
Laloko, who was delighted with the current form of Keshi’s new Eagles, especially their victory against Rwanda last weekend, urged him to continue in the grooming of more local players to execute his plans of qualifying the country for the 2013 Nations Cup and 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
“I am happy with the new development of the team and I see a new team that would return the country’s glory in the nearest future,” coach Laloko said, adding that “I believe if Keshi can be consistent in his quest to build a solid team from domestic players, I assure you that the era of depending on the foreign players to represent the country will soon be eradicated.”
Stressing that Nigeria could learn from the examples of Egypt, Zambia and other countries who rely mainly on domestic players, Laloko recalled how the Eagles were a team to fear in the 1990s, saying “it was the winning mentality in football administrators, the coach and players that gave the team the edge, especially the idea of Clemens Westerof to groom local players that won the 1994 Nations Cup.
He added that “only a fatherly coach can groom teenage players into becoming a strong team just like Keshi is doing. He is instilling discipline and control in the local players because of the psychology involved in managing youths. I think the time has come for us to build a local team that could contend with other teams in Africa and the World. Keshi is really doing well but then Nigerians should be firm in supporting him to succeed because it won’t be all rosy”.