By Kolade Oni
The Nigeria Football Federation Vice President, Mike Umeh has told Goal, exclusively, that the football house has learnt so many lessons from the just-concluded African Nations Championship. It hopes these messages will be internalised to ensure a successful campaign for the Super Eagles at the 2014 World Cup finals.
The Eagles ended the CHAN as bronze medallists in their debut outing in the tournament following a close 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in the third-place match last Saturday.
Despite the inability of the nation to triumph in the competition meant for players plying their trade in their respective lands, the NFF has disclosed that the CHAN has opened the country's football governing body to the obvious fact that talents abound in the Nigeria Premier League and that they should be given opportunity to thrive.
Though Umeh opined that the World Cup in Brazil is of higher standard to the CHAN, he stressed that the experience the home based gathered in South Africa would assist them greatly when the competition for World Cup squad places hots up.
He confirmed that the NFF is looking at various ways to make the league more viable and lucrative, and to attract more sponsors. He also hopes to ensure that good players are not lost to clubs in Europe.
The former Anambra State FA Chairman noted that if the league becomes more profitable with the participation of private firms, players and coaches would be happy and the league’s following would also improve.
He admonished Nigerians to support the growth of the local league and also to ensure that they pour into match venues in the same way they do to viewing centres when they want to watch English Premier League games.
Umeh told Goal: "The competition in South Africa has ended and all focus is now on the World Cup finals in June. We have learnt a great deal from the just-concluded CHAN which will be of use to us when the World Cup campaign starts. Even though we can't equate the CHAN with the World Cup because they are not on the same level, we have seen that we have good players in the local league that can be nurtured to stardom.
"The way they played in South Africa showed that with good enabling environment, we can get there. I will appeal to private firms to come to our aid to change the face of the league."