Former International, Felix Owolabi, has laid the blame for the CHAN Eagles poor performance at the ongoing African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco, on the abysmal league, coaches and administrators of the game in the country.
Nigeria struggled in her first Group C match against Rwanda, which ended goalless. The Eagles, however, managed a 1-0 win over the defending champion, Libya, for lack of creativity in front of goal.Owolabi told The Guardian that the nation should not expect much from the team as the majority of the players were just appearing in their first major tournament.
“A thousand miles they say start with a step. They have just begun a journey and people should not write them off. One thing that is very paramount is that they have not lost a match yet.
“We should not expect much from the Eagles, as the competition progresses I believe they will also improve. Football is a team game and in the team you find some players going at the rate of 70 per cent, others on 30.
“Once it comes to this, it is necessary for some others to mend fences and supplement the effort of others. So those on 30 per cent and 70 can make it 100 per cent. That is what football is all about,” he said.
The former manager of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan said the quality of the nation’s league and the coaches handling the clubs have not helped the players to develop as would have expected.
“The day Eagles played their first game with Rwanda was when I also watched a Premier League game. When I compared the two matches and that of the Manchester United vs Stoke City game, the CHAN game was an eyesore. I pity African football because it is not developing rather it is going down.“By now we should be talking of mass exodus of African players in Europe. They cannot be there because of their low level of performance. Except few of them who are very lucky,” he said.
Owolabi, who studied physical education, said he was talking because he wanted people to learn about the sport.“These players are raw talents but the only problem we have is that we are not organised. We do not give these players the template, good setting, good pitches, quality coaches and so on to excel.
“Rather, coaches are cajoled by also poor administrators to assemble in Abuja for refresher courses that do not add value to what they know already. Let’s hope that the Eagles will be able to find their feet at the tournament as this is the first time most of the players will be going to a major championship,” he stated.