The sorry state of local football in Nigeria

Despite Nigeria being one of the continent’s superpowers, former national team head coach, Christian Chukwu, believes that the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has been neglected due to the selection process at international level.

Chukwu, who was the first Nigerian captain to lead his nation to an African Cup of Nations triumph in 1980, is worried that local-based players have lost motivation, due to the bias held when selecting a national team squad.

“I still believe we have very good players in the NPFL if only the coach can live in Nigeria and start training with them. The positions he finds deficient, he can then invite the foreign-based players to fill such because this is how it was done in those days,” he told The Guardian, Nigeria.

“A situation where you regulate the invitation of the NPFL players to the national camp but invite the foreign-based players liberally is discouraging. This definitely will make the league not go well and even the players back home not showing the confidence to play at home again.”

With Ikechukwu Ezenwa, the 31-year-old third-choice goalkeeper the only domestic-based player currently in the plans of Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr, Chukwu feels the leading NPFL performers will now look towards moving outside the league due to the lack of development and national team chances.

“This is why some players will go to Benin, Ghana, and so on to also become foreign-based players. Though I see our current team as being very strong, it also has to be a mixture of the good ones from the domestic league,” the 69-year-old concluded.

The former Enugu Rangers defender also stated his worry at the fact that some players would even accept offers to play in war-torn nations to be deemed as foreign, giving them a better chance of earning national team caps.