Former Super Eagles assistant coach, Sylvanus Okpala, has called on both Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and handlers of the national team not to beg any player born outside the country to play for the team this year.
Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, on the way to success for the Super Eagles in the new year, Okpala stated that the ability of a player to decide by himself to play for Nigeria without any pressure would go along way in helping the team instil high level of commitment while prosecuting matches.
He said that Nigeria has abundant talented players in both the domestic and foreign leagues that are good enough to motivate foreign-born Nigerians to play for their country without being pressurised.
“One thing that must be corrected for the Super Eagles to return to it’s glorious days is, for coaches and the NFF not to beg any player to play for the team. When a player turns down the offer of playing for the Super Eagles, he should be left alone,” Okpala said.
He continues: “A player can’t give his best to the team if he is pressurised to play for the Super Eagles. Commitment level of players is very important in a team. Even if you have the eleven best players in one team, and there is no 100 per cent team spirit, the team will not succeed. Begging players to play for Nigeria is one of the factors that is killing the Super Eagles. We have talents everywhere that can motivate any overseas-born player to play for Nigeria.”
Speaking further, Okpala said: “When I was assistant coach to Stephen Keshi, we used both foreign- based and domestic players. The foreign-based players fought for a place in the team, and that is why the commitment level of the Super Eagles was high at that period.
“The present Super Eagles handles should work hard to get credible players who are hungry for success into the team,” he said. Okpala also called on the NFF to map out what he described as “well tailored programme to reposition the nation’s football from the grassroots level.” (The Guardian)