I have one concern however, how come we win all these age grade competitions, we beat Brazil, Sweden, Mexico, USA, name them, we are even more successful than Brazil in the Under 17 competition and yet we have not been able to win anything of value at the senior level? Where are the youngsters that have won the past competitions, what happened to them? How come no one incorporates these guys into Super Eagle, as it is obvious these guys can play football?
All the coaches keep claiming that they are too young, even Keshi said Kelechi Iheanacho, for one, was too young, too young to play for the country, that he and his team mate should wait for their turn. Fast forward 3 years, and kelechi is just getting his first call up, Taiwo Awoniyi and Isaac Success are still not called up yet. Will they be called up when they are 40? Why would you feature old tired legs that don't play regular football abroad, and are clearly overage when you have new people who are hungry and younger then them and can play too. Why would coaches feature old tired legs rather than incorporate the new youngsters into the squad to strengthen the squad and win matches. Tell me, how old was Christiano Ronaldo when he started playing in England before transferring to Real Madrid? How old was Wayne Rooney when he started playing for the Premiership club-side where he began his career? How old is the new guy - Memphis Depay that was signed on by Manchester United, the guy that they purchased for Twenty Five Million Pounds? Yet in Nigeria the coaches are looking for players and all they can come up with are a slightly poor combination of people, either too old or too tired to play any meaningful football.
I watched with keen interest the competition that featured Toyin Awoniyi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success, the guys played massive football for their Under 17 team. It took Kelechi Iheanacho's admission into the Manchester City squad for him to be called-up by Nigeria. Why? All the talented young guys that have played for Nigeria over these years, where are they. I remember one keeper, I think his name is Vandekia, he was the keeper at one under 23 world cup, he even saved a penalty kick, the guy has faded into obscurity while the country used only one Vincent Enyeama, until he retired and luckily, they found this new guy - Carl Ikeme. By the way, do you remember Alampasu? Where is he now?
Okay someone says they use football age that' why they win. If they use football age and they played very well, should that not be a sign that we should find a way to incorporate them on time into the senior league before they outgrow the business? That football age must definitely be what accounts for the reason why a footballer that is supposed to be 28 years old can't run anymore, because in reality, the player is actually almost 40. Recall the Osaze - Yakubu Aiyegbeni story. Osaze as a primary school child watched Yakubu at the stadium playing for a Nigerian clubside - Julius Berger, but Osaze attained age 29 before Yakubu Aiyegbeni. Infact when Osaze was 29, Yakubu was barely 28. Today Osaze is 34 and Yakubu is 32 going on 33, how interesting! I know the NFA started a program that promotes youngsters across the age grade national teams, but incorporating them into the senior team on time is very important especially at this period when we do not necessarily have great players in the team.
But I guess not taking in young people into the system is a general Nigerian malaise, think about it, the NFA will not accept the young people into the team even when the player is an obvious talent, the same way the government will will rather recycle the old Dawgs instead of incorporating younger people into their cabinets. They've said Youth are the leaders of tomorrow, the caveat however is that tomorrow never comes. The only way to raise new crops of leaders is to give people the privilege to use their talents and gifts regardless of their age. If we do not carry the young people along and incorporate them into the structure of things then we are not just going to lose the critical innovation and freshness youths bring, we will also jeopardize the future.
Oliseh, please find some of these youngsters and include them in your squad. We need to start winning matches and not checking age.