Okocha : No Hold Barred As Super Eagles Legend Dissects The NPFL

Okocha talks about age discrepancies in Nigeria football

A former Super Eagles international Austin Jay Jay Okocha has opened up on some the challenges currently hampering the success of the Nigeria Premier Football League NPFL, system, npflupdates.com reports.

Also read: Okocha Canvases More Time For Outstanding Chukwueze

Okocha in his time before moving to Europe in early 90s played in the local NPFL for former champions Rangers International.

In an interview he granted some weeks ago, the former Bolton Wanderers skipper, said he preferred watching the English Premier League on television than go to stadiums to watch NPFL fixtures live.

The Olympics gold medalist, highlighted the need for a good working football academy, stressing that academies are the bedrock of professional football.

Super Eagles legend Austin Jay Jay Okocha.
Jay Jay Okocha in action for Nigeria’s Super Eagles

Okocha talks about the NPFL, its challenges and way forward

“If you go to some of the clubs in Nigeria, their so-called feeder teams or academies are filled with old men, even older than those in the main team. To call a spade a spade, those footballers are not supposed to be in the feeder teams, which are supposed to be for younger players,” Okocha said.

“The structure of the league is deficient and would not attract any meaningful development if the errors are not attended to. It is not about scouting all over European leagues and others looking for players that are scoring goals, then, they get a call-up. National team is not magic, it is about team building.”

Speaking further, the 2004 AFCON highest goalscorer, admonished the local league organisers to find a way of improving the league. The dribble-king, also said it’s to the detriment of the NPFL if he sees what’s going wrong and sweeps under the carpet.

Also read: Ronaldo In, Messi Out As Okocha Names Exclusive All Time XI(11)

Let’s find a way to improve the NPFL

“We must find a way to develop the league because it is no rocket science; it is a matter of mindset and our desire to do the right thing. If l am not comfortable going to watch matches, do you want me to sweep that under the carpet and pretend? I am not okay with the situation and can’t deal with it. This is another opportunity to clear what I said in Nairobi, Kenya because, at this stage of my life, it will be unfair for me to lie to Our people or be covering up,” he continued.

“It is true I said I will prefer to watch a premier league match instead of NPFL on television because the league is not where it is supposed to be.”

Jay Jay Okocha thrill fans at the Ronaldinho's charity match in America
Jay Jay in action during Ronaldinho’s charity match

In addition to what he has already said, Okocha stated it hurts to see that his efforts and those before him isn’t being appreciated as a stepping stone. However, the 50-year-old applauded some clubs who according to him, are taking on lucrative initiatives.

*It hurts to see that the efforts that we have put in those years have not been built on. Maybe we are just realising that now and some clubs are taking the initiative.

“The league should give us what we are craving for and that is why I made the statement so that we will all wake up and do the right thing. We need to start attracting investos to our local league. We need to make our stadia conducive to watching matches and not people being harassed; we should make sure that we are having the right results and not that home teams must win at all cost,” he said.

Further in his opinion, “the future of football is grassroots development and that is the point I am trying to make.”

“At this stage, we should have been able to put structures in place that Can enable us to say that these are our future players. My position on NPFL stands. One thing that is for sure is that there is no shortage of talent in Nigeria, the only difference is management and putting structures in place.”

Why I don’t want to own a club

Also read: Okocha Drops Exclusive Analysis About Super Eagles AFCON Group

The former Paris St-Germain midfielder, also revealed the main reason he didn’t want to own a club in Nigeria. According to him, clubs find it difficult to win at away grounds; and also, the games wouldn’t be televised for wider audience to participate.

“I don’t want to own a club, I would have loved to. But the question is, how will I function when I know that I will struggle to win away matches, knowing that those
games Won’t be televised?”

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