Nigeria legend Daniel Amokachi has challenged the football administrators in Nigeria to return to developmental structures that saw the team reach greater heights in the 1990s.
Amokachi, who’s the Special Assistant on Sports to President Muhammad Buhari, expressed his displeasure as the Super Eagles have often relied on dual-eligible players who were born abroad.
Ola Aina, Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun and Ademola Lookman were some of the players who opted to play for Nigeria and were involved as the country was knocked out of the 2022 World Cup play-off by the Black Stars of Ghana.
Amokachi went on to laud late Stephen Keshi, who opted to use the players bred in Nigeria and went on to win the 2013 AFCON title.
While commenting on the Super Eagles’ failure to secure the 2022 FIFA World Cup ticket, the former Everton player said, “Quality-wise we can’t take it away from Nigeria. Every day Nigeria is blessed with one immigrant player who is playing out there and he’ll always come up and say I turned down my birth country.
“I want to play for Nigeria when their country of birth never looked for them. They won’t even make their birth nation squads.
“Unfortunately for us Nigeria, we’ve thrown away our developmental structure which we had that made us win the 1996 Olympics gold medal, that made that generation so great.
“Stephen Keshi came into play and revived it and we saw how we won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
“Football in Nigeria and Africa is a religion. If we don’t have a player like Osimhen who hawked pure water on the Third Mainland bridge, you can see that’s the way he plays, he knows what it takes to play for Nigeria. That’s why he’s running 24/7 to make us win.
“And then you have players who grew up outside the shores of Nigeria that don’t know what it takes to wear the national colours in the World Cup, it is different.
“Several of the players have not been to the World Cup, they don’t know what it is. 99 percent of those players haven’t even felt the Nigerian stadium filled up like the way it was filled up.”
Amokachi, nicknamed “The Bull” during his playing days was discovered while playing for Ranchers Bees of Kaduna by former national team coach, Clemens Westerhof.
He was part of the Super Eagles team that participated in the 1994 FIFA World Cup and 1998 FIFA World Cup, and won the 1994 African Nations Cup.
He also helped win the Olympic gold medal in 1996, scoring in the Gold Medal game against Argentina.