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Nigeria no longer a football powerhouse —Okocha

Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha

Former Super Eagles captain, Austin Okocha, has lamented the declining standards of Nigerian football, insisting the country can no longer be considered a football powerhouse.
Okocha, who was speaking on the poor performance of the Flying

Eagles and the Super Falcons at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup respectively, told reporters in Lagos on Saturday that the country should develop the sport at the grassroots.

He said, “We should first of all accept the fact that we are struggling at the moment. We need to sacrifice a few years and maybe go back to the grassroots and start from there. I don’t think we will benefit from being stubborn about it, claiming that we are still what we used to be.

“We are paying the price for failing to invest in the grassroots. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We just need to speak to ourselves and accept that we are no longer the football powerhouse that we used to be. We should put things in order.”

The former Bolton Wanderers midfielder said the country’s football had been suffering partly because the football authorities had neglected knowledgeable and experienced ex-internationals.

Okocha said, “It’s all about getting us involved. Showing interest and showing respect to some of us. If I may be a bit brutal, I think we are being neglected. As long as we don’t appreciate what we’ve got, we will keep suffering. Except we want to go out there and get foreigners. If we want our people, we should get the right people.”

The Chairman of the Delta State FA added, “There is no need for me to think I know it all. I’ve started from where it is hot, which is the state FA. I’m sacrificing my time and ideas to try and put things in order in the Delta State FA and see if I can grow from there – and maybe one day I can head the technical committee at the national level.”

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