As 2019 is about to come to an end in a few hours, Completesports.com sought the views of former Super Eagles players and coach, on their assessment of Nigerian football in the outgoing year.
While some were impressed, others were not satisfied with the way things turned out for football this year.
Also Read: Pinnick: NFF Will Focus On Qualifiers, Youth Programmes In 2020
Atlanta 1996 gold medal winner and two-time World Cup star, Garba Lawal, described 2019 as a good one for Nigerian football.
Lawal however said the performance of the junior teams (Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles at this year’s U-17 and U-20 World Cups respectively), though not encouraging, should be an eye opener for the NFF.
“For me it was a fantastic year for Nigerian football except for the junior teams who did not do well.
“That’s football for you, it is always full of ups and downs and I know the Nigeria Football Federation is not happy with what happened.
“Like I said, that’s football, if you don’t lose you wouldn’t know that there are problems just like what we saw with the junior teams.
“Let’s hope things will be good for our football in 2020.”
Austin Eguavoen a member of the Super Eagles AFCON 1994 winning squad and 1994 and 1998 World Cup defender, scored the country’s football high.
“I will score Nigerian football 60 per cent in 2019,” he said.
“The score would have been more than that but the Super Falcons and the junior teams did not do too well this year.
“If they had performed well maybe I would have scored the country’s performance 90 per cent.
“But I think 60 per cent is a good score because the Super Eagles did well at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, they are already doing well in the qualifiers.
“Then Enyimba and Rangers are still on the continent.
“So when you look at all these, you will see that it has been a good year for our football.”
The former Super Eagles coach expressed hope that there will be more successes come 2020.
“Looking at expectations for our football next year, everyone knows our expectations are always high. So let’s hope we will achieve more than what we achieved this year.”
However former Super Eagles midfield star, Friday Ekpo, says it was not that a good year for Nigeria football.
The 1992 AFCON bronze medal winner said: “Well, I will say it has not been too good for our football in 2019 especially when you watch what happened to our junior teams.
“And also the clubs that represented us on the continent, we saw how some didn’t go far especially in the CAF Champions League.
“But we have Rangers and Enyimba in the Confederation Cup and hopefully they will do well.
“But the Super Eagles did well when you look at their performance at the last AFCON.
“All in all we didn’t do too well and I pray the new year will be better for our football. We need to place our football very well in 2020 so that we can go back to when we are always feared.”
Ekpo who was part of the now defunct Iwuanyanwu Nationale ( now Heartland) side that lost in the final of the CAF Champions League, harped on a proper structure for Nigerian football.
“Another thing is that we need to structure our football starting from the grassroot up to the Super Eagles.
“We must focus on getting the right age of players both at the local level and those from abroad. It is important we get this right so that we wouldn’t experience a situation where someone who is expected to stay long in the senior national team just fade away.
Also it is important to note that the home front must not be neglected, I’m talking of the home-based players.
“There should be a camp for home-based players where after league games, the best will be selected and they will train together and be ready ahead of national assignments.”
And in his words, Super Eagles coach to the 1984 AFCON and 2002 World Cup,
Adegboye Onigbinde, stated that there are still a lot of things wrong about the country’s football.
“For the year 2019, we won some and we lost some. But the truth is that we have not improved the game in Nigeria.
“Where are the developmental programmes, which will push our football forward? The other day (Gernot) Rohr said there are no more star players in the Super Eagles, are you surprised?
“There are two functions of a coach and they are identifying a talent and turning that talent into a star. But are we doing that anymore, the answer is no.
“We have refused to conduct CAF and FIFA developmental programmes so how can we move our football forward.”
Onigbinde who was in charge of Shooting Stars of Ibadan when they lost in the final of the 1984 CAF Champions League to Zamalek, added: “You see, football is a simple thing to do if the right things are put in place and until we do the right thing, we will remain the way we are.
“I wish the country all the best in 2020 and hope all what we have been preaching, about the development and progress of Nigerian football are put in place.”
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By James Agberebi