A former FIFA and CAF Instructor, Adegboye Onigbinde, has identified lack of proper football development programme as a major factor hindering football development in the country.
Onigbinde said this on Tuesday in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, following the 3-2 loss suffered by the Nigeria U-17 team to their Cote d’ Ivoire counterparts, in the final of WAFU B Under-17 Championship on Monday.
He said football would continue to suffer setbacks in the country until the Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] leadership developed a master plan for identifying and nurturing talents.
Onigbinde commended the Nigeria U-17 team for their display at the under-17 championship in Togo, but noted that their best wasn’t good enough to remain on top. “Did the team deliberately allow three goals to be scored against them before coming from behind to score their two goals?
“We are talking about football. A few months ago, we (Super Eagles) were leading a team (Sierra Leone) 4-0 and the team came and levelled up. We have a major problem in the country and it is the lack of a proper football development programme.
“This is a country greatly endowed with football talents but we are not even identifying the talents, not to talk of developing them. So, how can you build something on nothing?
What is our national strategy on the football system? What system are we playing? If none, then it means we are not serious with football,” Onigbinde added.
“For this reason, we have to accept any result that comes our way because we are going into matches and competitions with open chances rather than deliberate efforts to make a mark,”
According to him, the continuous losses recorded in the country’s football means that all is not well with the system, especially the inability to have grassroots sport programmes.
He explained that the country was able to conquer the world, even when there was no MRI testing for players.
“Scrutiny at those times we won under-17 championships was not as serious as it is now; there was no MRI then. We know the type of players we were fielding those days. The systems we had then were completely different from what we have now,” Onigbinde said.
He stated he had visited more than 40 African countries analyzing and developing football with FIFA and CAF but that he had not seen a country well-endowed like Nigeria.
Onigbinde, therefore, urged football administrators in the country to wake up and re-strategise to avoid making mockery of our football system, which had produced quality players in the past.
“If a team is in position one before suddenly moving to position three, such a team is definitely going down. There is nothing bad for someone to be down; what matters is how determined you are to come up again. This is what I have been talking about for decades now,” Onigbinde concluded.
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