‘Domestic League Players, Not Ready For Eagles, Yet’
Former national team captain, Austin Okocha has admitted that players from the domestic league are the future of the Super Eagles, but says they are at least three years away from being ready.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is implementing a not so quiet revolution of populating the Super Eagles with local players, but former Captain Okocha said they still need time to gain consistency.
“I guess it is definitely the way forward, but I don’t think the home-based players are ready yet, so if I were in Keshi’s shoes, I would be trying to get them ready in the next 3 or 4 years,” Okocha, now a member of the NFF Technical committee, said during a programme on the GuinnessVIP mobi platform.
The former captain conceded that there were a few talented players who could make the squad, but plumped for the more exposed Europe-based players.
“Of course, if some of them are so talented that they are quick learners, then, I would include them in my squad, but the truth is that we still have so many professional players who are hungry and eager to play for their country, so it will be better to use them as they have that level of exposure.”
With Nigeria turning to focus on the home-grown lads after years of disappointment, Okocha agrees that the future is at home. “Definitely the future lies in those new players, but for the moment, they cannot be as consistent as where we want to be.”
Okocha also spoke about his relationship with former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho and how he mentored the former Brazil star.
“I had a great time at PSG and Ronaldinho was like my kid brother. I realised he was just so talented and he just needed someone to guide him. And I’m so glad he turned out to be one of the best players in the world.”
Okocha played for clubs like Fenerbahce, PSG and Bolton Wanderers, but picked out lowly Eintracht Frankfurt as his best club.
“Eintract Frankfurt was my best team, as for coach that was (Dragoslav) Stepanovic because he was the one who brought me from a third division club and gave me my first real opportunity.
“For me, for a coach to be able to scout a player from a lower league and make him a first division player shows he has some great qualities. He was definitely the best I’ve played under.”