Former Super Eagles player and 1980 AFCON winner Sylvanus Okpala has told the NFF not to beg players before deciding to play for Nigeria. Speaking with the Guardian, the 61-year-old said there are good players in the local league and abroad who can encourage others to switch allegiance in favour of the Super Eagles.
“One thing that must be corrected for the Super Eagles to return to its glorious days is for coaches and the NFF not to beg any player to play for the team. When a player turns down the offer of playing for the Super Eagles, he should be left alone,”.
Okpala highlighted that when players are pressured to switch allegiance, you rarely get the best from them
“A player can’t give his best to the team if he is pressured to play for the Super Eagles. Commitment level of players is very important in a team. Even if you have the eleven best players in one team, and there is no 100 per cent team spirit, the team will not succeed. Begging players to play for Nigeria is one of the factors that is killing the Super Eagles. We have talents everywhere that can motivate any overseas-born player to play for Nigeria.”
He further said during his time as assistant manager of Super Eagles to Stephen Keshi there weren’t preference for selections of players, foreign and home based players were selected and treated equally.
“When I was assistant coach to Stephen Keshi, we used both foreign-based and domestic players. The foreign-based players fought for a place in the team, and that is why the commitment level of the Super Eagles was high at that period.
“The present Super Eagles handlers should work hard to get credible players who are hungry for success into the team,” he said. Okpala also called on the NFF to map out what he described as “a well tailored programme to reposition the nation’s football from the grassroots level.”
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