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Laloko: Why Nigeria's football teams failed in 2019

17:24 GMT+3 05/01/2020
Joe Aribo, Wilfred Ndidi - Nigeria
The ex-NFF technical director feels the West Africans did not live up to expectations last year and berated the country’s football administrators

Former technical director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Kashimawo Laloko has given an honest assessment of the country’s football teams last year, claiming they underachieved.

The West Africans managed to finish third at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and then underwhelmed at the Wafu tournament under the guidance of Imama Amapakabo.

The coach was also in charge as Nigeria failed to qualify for the African Nations Championship (Chan) as well as the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Their women's team also suffered a similar blow.

The West Africans had poor outings at the U17 and U20 World Cup tournaments, crashing out in the Round of 16.

In his assessment, Laloko expressed his displeasure at the disappointing showings and believed the country should have performed better, slamming the administrators and coaches.

“As far as I am concerned, we achieved nothing in football in 2019. At the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, we came third and Nigerians were jubilating. We have to call our football administrators to order because we should be achieving more,” he said, as per the Guardian.

“During the qualifiers for the African Nations Championship (Chan) in Cameroun for example, it was marked with controversies and eventually we failed to qualify. Coach Imama Amapakabo, who was the same coach for the Chan tournament messed us up again. He was accused of using the wrong players and we suffered for it. And now, we will not be at the Olympics in Tokyo Japan.

“If Amapakabo had done his assignment well, the country wouldn’t have found herself not going to the Tokyo Olympics.

“At the U20 World Cup tournament, we didn’t make any mark as usual and even the U17 championship. Coach Manu Garba used to do well, but I think he got wrong assistants. There is this wrong assumption that people who have played the game before can also coach. The fact that you once played the game doesn’t mean you must now start coaching."

Reacting to the Super Falcons’ failure to qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympics, he said: “Look at how they messed up the Super Falcons.

“When I saw the way the team was going, I even offered myself for service but was turned down. I don’t think we needed to employ a foreign coach in the first place because to me, it amounts to wasting money."

Laloko believes more home-based players need to be included in the national teams and coaches must be trained to ensure further development of Nigerian football.  

“I think we need to start developing our football by accommodating at least 30 per cent of the home-based players playing in our league. Even if they are not going to play, they must be in the team and develop from there. This is the only way we can give them confidence.

“Thank God we now have a sports minister, who has now intervened to make sure they do things rightly. We need to reorganise ourselves and be more transparent. Coaches should be trained properly because the federation doesn’t train anybody. When they are looking for coaches to appoint, they put their men, and that is why we’ve been failing.”