Subscribers to South African based Cable Network, DSTV, are suffering and smiling, apologies to the afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulopko Kuti, the man who saw Nigeria’s tomorrow. In the said hit track, Fela highlighted the hardship ordinary Nigerians go through in the hands of their religious and political leaders. It’s about the hustling under excruciating conditions of the poor masses, resulting from bad governance. Years after he was gone the situation remains the same if not worse. If you are on the premium category of the Cable Network in question, where between N15, 000 – N17, 000 must go out of your pocket monthly to boost another country’s economy, then you will understand the suffering angle. But that is not the end of your nightmare. You also have to contend with the balancing act in terms of who watches which channels in the house.
The ‘oga’ in the house will in most cases switch from Sports to News channels. Madam will have to battle it out with the kids in the other living room, as the struggle is usually a choice between Z -World and the likes and Cartoon Networks.
On the flip side is the Avalanche of sports channels, ranging from the mundane to the comic. The discussion programmes include; Soccer Africa, where former international goalkeeper, Idah Peterside and his colleagues engage in refreshing topics, Football Africa and Monday Night Football with Charles Anazodo as the anchorman . The programmes are so many that it’s difficult to keep a track on their schedules.
In the course of the week, I ran into one of such numerous sports talk shows; ‘Naija Made’ presented by a very passionate sports lady, Chisom Mbonu-Ezike. The ever-fire spitting ex-international Dominic Iorfa was the guest. Iorfa’s postulations were quite thought provoking. Frankly, I never spared a thought on the possible reasons why Coach Rohr’s era with the National team that started on the high is on steady decline. The disastrous outing against Bafana Bafana of South Africa on our home soil is a confirmation of this disturbing trend.
The summary of the controversial ex-international’s submission is that the ugly development in the national team is a reflection of the quality of foreign football leagues most of our players ply their trade. He asked a rhetorical question that also came with an answer; “where are most members of the current national team based? Turkey and China. What is the quality of the leagues of those countries compared to Europe?”
The former national team player who was the first Nigerian to play in the Turkish league, is of the view that when our players were featuring in ‘A’ leagues in Europe, the national team benefited immensely from it.
A cursory look at the present crop of Super Eagles and their base will help to drive his point home. In Turkey are; Elderson Echiejile, William Troost Ekong, Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo, Ogenyi Onazi and Okechukwu Azubuike. Others are, Sunday Mba, Aminu Umar, Emem Eduok, Imoh Ezekiel as well as Musa Mohammed – Bosina, Abdulahi Shehu – Cyprus. Leading the pack of the Made in China Eagles is the team captain, Mikel Obi, Odion Ighalo, Brown Ideye, Anthony Ujah and two other absentees; Obafemi Martins and Chinedu Obasi. The list is endless.
Iorfa who played in England, Turkey and China, remarked that most players in the present national team lack professional discipline and quality to compete in the more competitive leagues in Europe, hence Turkey and China provide soft landing for them. According to him, training in Turkey is not rigorous. The former chairman of Lobi Stars, observed that those who made the national team thick in the past made their names at home first before heading out of the country unlike the present scenario where players that cannot command first team shirts in their local clubs before heading out to even Benin Republic only to lobby their way to the national team. We are seeing the negative impact on the national team.
He advised our football administrators to borrow a leaf from South Africa which has developed their local league that produces the bulk of their national team players.
Honestly, Iorfa and the ‘Naija Made’ crew made my day. For once, I found myself on the same page with this boastful man that scared the hell out me as we confronted each other during the 2012 Federation Cup finals in Lagos, with Heartland Football club of Owerri emerging champions over his Lobi Stars.
Truth be told, even the Eagles in the A leagues in Europe, how many of them are commanding first team shirts in the various clubs? With the exception of Victor Moses that found favour in the eyes of new Chelsea manager, Conte, Iheanacho, Iwobi, Musa and many others have been relegated to the bench. So, cry not for our beloved national team, instead pray, pray for our football administrators and coaches to see the danger ahead over the influx of made in Turkey and China Eagles.
Adieu Eddy Bekom
So sad that our colleague and Vice President of SWAN, Eddie Beckon, his wife and daughter who were all involved in a domestic gas explosion accident could not make it despite spirited efforts to save their lives by many sports stakeholders across the country.
Eddie was a committed professional who haboured no ill feelings for anyone. My last encounter with him was during the SWAN / Mitchel imbroglio. True to his name he beckoned on me and appreciated my preference for a peaceful resolution of the feud, when every other person was maintaining a hard stand. Very friendly and contented, Eddie was shocked to hear I was involved in auto crash that has kept me out of circulation for about three years now and promised to make efforts to visit. I didn’t know he had relocated to Cross River State.
But kudos to Nigerian sports community, especially his colleagues in the pen profession. The out pour of emotion and cry for help, using different platforms were unprecedented. Let’s keep this spirit of love going.
Reports indicate Eddie has been buried beside his wife and daughter. What a tragedy. Adieu Eddie.
• Till next week, keep attacking