Okocha: Super Eagles need natural offensive midfielders to succeed

Austin Okocha
The West African side have been struggling for the replacement of the 47-year-old since he called time on his career

Former Nigeria captain Jay-Jay Okocha believes the Super Eagles need natural offensive midfielders to succeed.

The West African side have not found an attacking midfielder since the retirement of the 47-year-old from the national team in 2006.

The Super Eagles have made do with John Obi Mikel, Joel Obi, Alex Iwobi and recently Joe Aribo in the position but they struggled to live up to expectations.

Nigeria recently managed to play two consecutive draws against lowly-rated Sierra Leone in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Okocha, who had 73 caps for the Super Eagles, has advised on how Nigeria can enjoy better performances in their subsequent games.

“What the Eagles need now are natural midfielders who can create chances and change the course of a game,” Okocha told Brila FM.

“We need midfielders who can run at defenders and a pick their teammates with good passes,” Okocha said during a radio programme.

“We have good midfielders but not in at that level at the moment. Some of them are just scared and the fact that they are being compared to the 1994 Eagles brings a bit of pressure on them.”

Okocha also expressed his satisfaction with the Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr since he took over in 2016.

The German tactician guided Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and led the side to finish third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

“For now, I will score him seven out of 10 because when he came in, things were not steady, and he has steadied the ship now,” he continued.

“He inherited an abandoned team, and so for now, he is following his own direction. He has created his own team.

“But we all know football is about results, of course, if the results don’t go his way, our people will criticise him, you know everybody in Nigeria is a coach.

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“But if results go his way, of course, we will praise him. Even if you are the best coach, if you don’t get results, you will be under pressure.”

The former Bolton Wanderers captain also threw his weight behind the recent contract extension handed to Rohr by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and believes it will help the Super Eagles' stability.

 “I’m in support of the contract extension because for every country to be successful, you need continuity, and you need direction,” he added.