Build your team around NPFL players, Owolabi tells Rohr

Super Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr…September 7. PHOTO: AFP.

Former International, Felix Owolabi, has expressed regret on the larger number of foreign-based players used over those in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) in international engagements, especially during the AFCON qualifiers.

Coach Gernot Rohr recently prosecuted the second game of the CAF Group E Africa Cup of Nations against Seychelles with players in either Europe or Asia, while goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, the only home-based, was unused.

But the same cannot be said of group leader, Libya, and South Africa that relied 100 per cent on their league players for the two matches played so far.

Speaking with The Guardian during the week, Owolabi said that the sorry state of the nation’s league that allowed too many foreign players for international engagements, saying that the NPFL’s players should have been the base of Super Eagles.

“The idea of players coming to camp very late does not speak well of us.

Football is about strategy, planning, and making sure that players get to camp early to understand and execute match plan and not look strange to one another.

“The destiny of any nation’s football lies in the local league.

That is why everything is going well for the Libyan team because a greater percentage of the players, if not all, play in their local league.

It has got to a point where we need to look inward for team’s coordination,” he said.

Owolabi who played for the then Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan, said: “I have heard people say our league is improving and one of the best in Africa.

I cannot say that about the league, let alone give us players that will form the bedrock of our national team.

“With the exception of Enyimba FC, I have not seen any other club competing competitively in the CAF’s competitions.

The abysmal performance of our clubs in Africa should tell us we have a long way to go, especially when a club was declared winner of the NPFL with some outstanding matches left. This to me is worrisome,” he stated.

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