I won’t have hypertension over Nigerian football, Says Owolabi | The Guardian Nigeria News

I won’t have hypertension over Nigerian football, Says Owolabi | The Guardian Nigeria News

Felix Owolabi, a.k.a. ‘Owoblow’, is currently a football coach. He played in the domestic league with Kano’s Raccah Rovers, IICC Shooting Stars, before he was invited to the national team, which was then called Green Eagles. He was in the Eagles team that placed third at the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and also the 1980 winning squad. In this interview with The Guardian SAMUEL IFETOYE, Owolabi laments the state of Nigerian football.

What is your impression of state of football in the country?
I have kept on soliciting for an opportunity like this to present itself… I mean when stakeholders will have a platform to discuss Nigerian football and the way forward. This is necessary so that we can proffer solutions on what could be done to make it better. Now that the domestic league is about to end, the question is, what next? Look at all our clubs, and the players, how many of the players have featured for the national team? None! How many of the domestic players were used to prosecute the match against Sao Tome and Principe? None! I thought that the fixture would have afforded us the opportunity to present some domestic league players; it never did, as the new coach also stuck to the familiar pattern, by using wholly foreign-based players. I think we are not being fair to our domestic league players.

I am concerned about the future of Nigerian football and I want something to be done to lift the spirit of players in the domestic league. If anyone decides to tamper with the destinies of home-based players, there would be problem. I can assure you that posterity will never forgive these people and their generation if they fail to address this recurring problem of the country’s football.

Look at clubs like Zamalek, Wydad Casablanca, Al Ahly and TP Mazembe; they were at par with Nigerians clubs like IICC Shooting Stars, Rangers and Bendel Insurance. Where are the clubs today? Even Enyimba FC that gladdened our hearts in recent times, where is the club now?

My heart bleeds and it is very painful that this is happening to us at this period. Anytime we have our clubs in the CAF competition, the next thing we hear is that they are out. I hope that nobody will give me heart attack because of Nigerian football. Can you compare our football with what is happening in Europe?

Their football is going up while ours is retrogressing! Remember, when England, the country that is said to have the best league in world, had a problem; was it not journalists in that country who published this for everyone to read?

The Three Lions struggled during the recent UEFA Nations League and Coach Gareth Southgate complained about the team, and the media reported it.

All I am saying is that our journalists too should try reporting what they see. You guys shouldn’t allow your conscience to be mortgaged by giving those who do not understand how football is run platform to thrive with their ineptitude. Let journalists write what they see for us to address the main problem of our football and for the good of the game.

What is your comment on the Abuja Stadium pitch?
The Abuja Stadium pitch is nothing to write home about as far as our match against Sierra Leone is concerned in AFCON qualifier. I read that about $10 million was spent to refurbish it, and yet you can imagine how the pitch was like on that day. If we cannot have a decent playing ground for our national team to play, then it calls for concern.

Also, the idea of pulling out of from all international basketball competitions for two years does not portend well for the sport. The question you should ask yourself is, will that decision solve the problem of the basketball federation? Which I know is not, when the insiders themselves know the problem that has plagued the federation. It is painful!

Source: Sport – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

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