OKOCHA BLAMES AMOKACHI, EGUAVOEN OVER EAGLES 2010 WORLD CUP FAILURE
Austin 'Jay Jay' Okocha
Former Super Eagles' captain, Austin Okocha, has seriously blamed those who assisted Lars Lagerback for Super Eagles' woefully outing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Speaking with the media in Abuja last Saturday, Okocha, who is aspiring to become a member of the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), said that all the three Nigerian coaches that were attached to the Swede tactician should take part of the responsibility for the Eagles' refusal to fly at the World Cup. He said that if they had assisted the foreign coach well, Nigeria would have done better in South Africa.
'Those who were contracted by the NFF to assist Lagerback failed in their duties. They watched and allowed the foreigner to invite players he had little or no knowledge about. They could not help him to make the right choice of players for matches during the World Cup.
'I heard that they accused the man of neglecting them, but that was because they probably were not ready to offer him some help,' Okocha stated.
'It is difficult to say whether Lagerback failed or not based on his short spell on the job, but the results were poor, so he cannot say that he did well.
'I think he could have done better if Daniel Amokachi, Austin Eguavoen and Aloysius Agu had played their parts very well. There was little time for him to know the players and their mentality, so I had expected his assistants, especially the indigenous coaches to make more input for him to understand the players.
'It's a shame things went that way in South Africa. I thought the Eagles should have done better with the calibre of players in the team and the motivation they had,' the former Eagles' playmaker stated.
On why he wants to join the NFF board, Okocha said he wants to give back to Nigerians what the country gave to him during his playing days. He also said that his experience as a player in at least four European countries would be of great benefit to the country if he gets on the board.
Okocha, who started his professional career with Eintrecht Frankfurt in Germany and later played for PSG in France, Fanabache in Turkey and Bolton Wanderers in England, said he would want to show Nigerians how football is run in those places.
'I am pissed off by comments by some ignorant people who say that we the ex-internationals are aspiring to get to the NFF board just to make money. I have made money and name both in Nigeria and abroad. I am not poor and I don't think there is money in NFF for me to pinch from. Those who say we are scrambling to be there for financial benefit, perhaps, do not know my worth,' he said.
Okocha also spoke on the likely appointment of Samson Siasia as chief coach of Super Eagles, pointing out that Siasia had done well with age grade teams and that he deserved to move up the rung. He added that what Siasia needed at this point is encouragement for him to get results.
'Siasia has paid his dues in football in this country and I think he would do well as the Super Eagles' coach if properly encouraged. With his achievement at the World Youth Championship and the Olympics, where he won silver as coach, I think he can take us far if the atmosphere is good and conducive for him.
'I also feel that Siasia should be paid good salary to do the job well. I don't see anything wrong in what he demanded for, although it is left for the NFF to agree on what to pay based on what it has in its vault,' he submitted.
He said that it was not true that Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Iduaghan, has endorsed Okocha ahead of him to represent Delta State in the NFF polls.
“I expect the Delta State government to refute those false claims very soon,” said the man, who at a tender age of 15 was on the board of trustees of Eselomo Diamonds FC of Warri, who later metamorphosed into Sharks FC of Port Harcourt.
Last week, Okocha took a swipe at football administrators in Nigeria, accusing them of looting and taking the game backwards. He said that was why he was standing for the NFF elections.