Chief Festus Adegboye Onigbinde

Former Super Eagles coach, Chief Festus Adegboye Onigbinde has called on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to stop pleading with Nigerian-born foreign players across Europe to play for the national team, saying such trend could hamper the nation’s football development efforts.

Onigbinde described as a big shame the recent trend in which a nation that has produced former winners of the prestigious African footballer of the Year award like late Rashidi Yekini, Victor Ikpeba, Emmanuel Amuneke and Kanu Nwankwo are wooing foreign players of Nigerian descent to play for the Super Eagles.

The FIFA technical adviser advised the NFF to create a programme to discover talents from the Nigerian league system and the grassroots, saying if a technical team was constituted to watch every league game in all centers every season, national team coaches would have a pool of talents to choose from while preparing their teams.

The former member of the NFF technical committee advised Nigerian coaches to update their knowledge of the game to meet the current standard of their counterparts in Europe, adding that if Nigeria did not produce good coaches, there is no way they would churn out quality talents.

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“I find it embarrassing that Nigeria is begging Europe-born players to play for the Super Eagles. If in the past the country produced quality players, I see no reason it cannot happen now. The problem is that the NFF doesn’t have a developmental plan. This is why they focus on getting other players.

“If a technical team were sent to all league venues to watch players and pick the best and send it to a particular data base in their Abuja office, such players will be monitored from time to time and Nigerian coaches at the end of the day would have a pool of players to pick from.

“Anybody that says Nigeria no longer has talented footballers is not being fair. There are quality players everywhere in the league, under the bridge and the grassroots, but there is no adequate mechanism put in place to search for them.

“It took me some minutes to pick Vincent Enyeama as my number one goalkeeper for Super Eagles after watching him in a game. I had never met him before I made that decision,” he said.

Onigbinde also advised the NFF to ensure the Super Eagles prepare well to make an appreciable impact in Russia.

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