Interview – Okpala To Soludo: ‘Don’t Convert Awka City Stadium To Amusement  Park’; How Home-Based Players Can Boost Super Eagles

Interview – Okpala To Soludo: ‘Don’t Convert Awka City Stadium To Amusement  Park’; How Home-Based Players Can Boost Super Eagles

Anambra State government recently decided that an amusement park will be built inside the premises of Awka City Stadium. And the decision has sparked reactions from sports stakeholders and followers alike.

In this interview, former Green Eagles midfielder and former Super Eagles assistant coach, Sylvanus Okpala (Quick Sylva) opens up to Completesports.com on the issue. He appeals to Anambra State  Governor, Professor Charles Soludo, to look for space elsewhere for the amusement park project. He also spoke about how to make the Super Eagles great with the home-based and overseas-based players.

Interview By Chigozie Chukwuleta,  in Awka.



Completesports.com:  You are here at Awka City Stadium for the Anambra State All-Stars competition and you are seeing some of the old faces that helped put Anambra State on the world football map. How does it feel to see this in your lifetime?

Okpala:  I feel very well, very good. You can imagine that I came from Lagos to see this happen and at least Anambrarians are enjoying the leadership of “General” Chikelue Iloenyosi. And what we are seeing is not the main menu, it’s not the main food. What we are seeing today is the appetizer and you know in everything you do in life you can only give what you have and what you know. If you go and borrow you are borrowing and when there’s a hitch somewhere you wouldn’t know how to wriggle out of it,  but again, you can still copy from people but you have to be innovative. Here,  we are seeing someone who is a chairman of the FA.


Sylvanus Okpala

Seeing this array of Old Stars, what does it remind you of?

It brings to life a lot of pleasant memories. And this happening in Anambra State gives me hope that the beautiful old days will come back. People are forgetting that the majority of the people that were representing the East Central State in sports were from Anambra, especially Onitsha and Aba. If you talk about athletics, handball, volleyball, in every sport actually – it’s the same thing, even in Green Eagles, in Rangers. All of a sudden the thing died down but I think it’s being resurrected again.

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The best is yet to come. I learnt there were school sports here recently. some of us grew up from school sports. I was a captain in my school days in primary school, St. John’s Primary School Fegge.  At Metropolitan Secondary School, I was games prefect and captain and I was in school playing for U-20, Green Eagles and one of the famous clubs in Africa (Rangers International).

I am happy school sports are back again. I am happy they are trying to do something and tomorrow we can see people who can represent Nigeria from this area.

Does it worry you that  Anambra State sports talents don’t have a good environment to express their gift,  seeing that the Awka City  Stadium is all that they have and there are no other competitive sports facilities?

Yeah,  it worries me a lot. Even when I came in here today, the first thing I mentioned is that there is a lot of space here to build a hostel for lodging for sportsmen and women where they can be camping. I will like to see that.

Anyways, we have a new governor and we hope and pray that they will take their mind to this place and give us the facilities we’re talking about.

This Awka City Stadium has been marked for a leisure park, instead of making it a complete stadium. What do you think?

No ooo, no no. They should not try it o. Let them look for land somewhere else where they can build a leisure park. Once they do it here, they destroy this place, I haven’t seen where there is a leisure park in a stadium. This place is meant for hostels where sports people can camp, build volleyball and handball courts, and build other things but not a leisure park.

This place is marked out for sporting activities. Why would we want to spoil it like we spoiled the whole thing in Onitsha? We don’t have where we play in Onitsha. When we were growing up in Fegge, we had fields, engineer field, and government field. But now, all those things are gone. These are some of the things that destroyed sports in Anambra State.


Awka City Stadium


Under the leadership of the new NFF President, Ibrahim Musa Gusau, what special advice can you give, especially in the area of the appointment of National team coaches? 

The point here is that just as I said earlier, I am trying to see how we can organize those who played the game, those who played overseas, those who played in the league here, either in the first tier or second tier, at least for 4-5 years, to come into coaching again.

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If you have not played this game, there is no way you can coach. You may speak the best of English, but it won’t be enough because coaching requires practical and most of the things you coach are most of the things you went through during your days of playing. So let them come back into coaching so that we can change the face of Nigerian football.

What is your take on the absence of home-based players in the Super Eagles?

The coaches are running away from the training that would be given to the players. You have to stretch your mind.  Sometimes even after training them, we will not rest because of corrections.  That is what they are running away from.  They want a ready-made meal, already packaged and served them. That is why a lot of coaches are running away from home-based players.

Even when we started with Keshi, to be honest with you, it was not easy. I suggested it to Keshi and he agreed. Along the line, I told him that when we start that he has to be patient with the boys if not after one week you’ll ask all of them to go and that you are not ready.

Eventually, when we started it actually happened. Keshi at one point said “I am tired, I am not ready” Then I reminded him what I said earlier and also told him that we will get something out of this in the end. Later we started getting something out of it and they gave us the Nation’s Cup title in 2013.

For the home-based players, you cannot bring them in and join them with the people coming from Europe – they can’t make it. What you need to do as a coach is that you train them to the level of the people coming back from Europe so that when they come they’ll be able to compete and that is exactly what we did.

During the qualifiers – the AFCON qualifiers and World Cup qualifiers, you could see that we made use of 5 to 6  home-based players because we take the weather into cognizance. Sometimes, there is not enough time to acclimatize to the weather, especially during the qualifiers. When it’s Nations Cup or World Cup proper, you have more time to prepare. If you watch from the time we were with Keshi – during the qualifiers –  we used more home-based players because we had trained them to a certain standard. You could see that sometimes six players from Europe and five home-based ones are playing. But you need to train them, you need to coach them, train them and teach them.

When you look at Anambra State now and what the FA chairman, Chikelue Iloenyosi, is doing, he is almost scratching the wall to be able to do some of the things he is doing. What is your word to Anambrarians who are well-to-do, in terms of support? 

You know in sports,  even when you know what to do, you still need money.  And to administer sports, especially football, you need money. I believe we need to get in touch with those people you are talking about and see how they can contribute to developing Anambra sports.





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  • Mumu! Oga Okpala go and utilise CHAN to train the Homebase players let them win CHAN get exposure to Europe as Scouts come to CHAN. the enventuality is that even those HOME Base you train bala bla bla thier ambition is to one day play in Europe so if the chance arises they will jump on a Plane to Oyibo Land because thats the land that they will have the best chance to reach the levels of Ighalo, Musa, and Etebo when they were once relevant for Super Eagles guys who also played in NPFL. No home base player wants to remain in NPFL if a chance to play in Europe arises so what then when they move to europe will you neglect them if they make it?.

    The reality Oga Okpala is that you people are Playing with our Super Eagles it is not your Right to impose HOME BASE players on Super Eagles.

    I am pleaded to all these Ex Internationls stop thinking we are all stupid because we are Not. Stop dragging our Football to the Mud for Financial Gains. CHAN is the First stop for NPFL Players and if they can’t make it in CHAN or find a way to Europe like Ighalo, Victor Boniface, Musa, Etebo through talent and hard work they do not merit a place in SE because those guys Plying thier trade in Europe are also Nigerian but they are just lucky enough to be more talented. Home Base players are Welcome in SE if they can Dominate Africa first. Thank you

    And Also You are Wrong Gerard Houllier a former Liverpool Manager and French Football great did not play football, Carlos Alberto Periera a World Cup Winning Coach for Brazil did not Play football and yet he won the World Cup. Avram Gtant former Chelsea Coach did not play football.

    Stop Capping and Decieving people OGA OKPALA PLEASE

  • Ako Amadi 10 months ago

    Thanks “Quicksilver” Okpala! Please do your best to convince the ignorant government in Anambra that sports is also a form of amusement, and more.

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