The Nigerian football federation (NFF) has in the past made the country proud in different competitions, qualifying for the world cup six times, making it out of the group stages three times(1994, 1998, and 2014), the Nigerian national football team was ranked 5th in the world, the highest FIFA ranking ever achieved by an African team.Becoming champions of the famous African Cup Of Nations(AFCON) on three occasions(1980, 1994, and 2013) was also a glimpse of how dominant the super eagles of Nigeria use to be in the beautiful game of football.
However in recent years all that have changed, we have gradually witnessed the slow and steady decline in the productiveness of the super eagles, not being able to win a single AFCON title since the demise of the late Stephen Keshi in 2013, failing to qualify for the 2022 world cup after also failing to do so in 2006 has seen the super eagles disappoint their fans for the second time. The country currently sits in 32nd position in the latest FIFA ranking and their recent failure to make it out of the last-16 of the just concluded AFCON in Cameroon further highlights the country’s incompetence in recent years.
That’s why in this article we shall be taking a look at some of the major steps the Nigerian football federation (NFF) must take if they must see their fortunes turn around for the good in the future.
1. IMPROVEMENT OF THE NIGERIAN PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (NPFL).
Charity they say begins at home and if the Nigerian football federation (NFF) strongly desires a positive change in the fortunes of the national team then they must take delibrate steps in making sure that the standard of the Nigerian professional football league (NPFL) is upgraded to the best possible level.This move if taken will definitely draw the attention of investors and sponsors which will in turn increase the competitiveness of the league there by increasing the level of refined talents in the nation.
One of the major reasons most of the coaches who have handled the national team hardly or scarcely use the home based players is because a good number of them think that the home based players lack the level of experience/exposure needed to play at top level and as a result will mostly rely or bank on the efforts and expertise of foreign based players, however this is not to say that the use of foreign based players is bad but it certainly does not give room enough for the home based players to properly develop.
Another reason for this could be down to the inability of most of the home based players to play to instructions and by instructions I mean tactics since most of the facilities used in the league are below normal standard thereby making it difficult for the home based players to easily adapt to tactics on a standard facility when they finally get to compete in one or with one.
2. GIVE MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO HOME BASED PLAYERS.
This is another bitter pill of truth the Nigerian football federation (NFF)would have to swallow if they must move forward in the right direction.Too much of everything they say is bad, however this particular point is not to say that the use of foreign based players is bad for the development and growth of the home based players but when the number of foreign based players in the national team becomes more than that of the home based players then it becomes a problem.Taking a look at some of the best footballing nations we will notice that most of the popular names we know all started their great careers from home with the national team coach believing in their abilities to get the job done on the pitch.
The Nigerian men’s football national team has to learn to trust in its home based players well enough to allow them make up a large part of the national team because of their hunger and zeal to succeed.Allowing foreign based players make up a large part of the national team squad has its disadvantages because these set of players have tasted successes with their different foreign clubs and would hesitate to put their body in the line in critical moments for the nation with the mentality that their clubs values, pays and needs them more than their countries.
The home based players with their drive and hunger to win trophies and sell themselves to the world would stop at nothing in ensuring that they leave their hearts on the pitch, so if the Nigerian football federation (NFF) are looking to improve it’s fortunes in the future this one point they might want to consider looking at.