23 September 2017
By Justice Nwafor
Super Eagles of Nigeria’s former chief head-coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, has supported Tammy Abraham’s decision to play for England national senior football team instead of Nigeria, saying rejection of Nigeria by Abraham serves the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, right.
Onigbinde berated NFF for always going after already-made stars abroad instead of developing the abundant talents in Nigeria.
Onigbinde wondered why NFF would wish to reap where it did not sow, saying that Abraham was born and developed in England and should be obliged to play for England.
NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, during the week said Abraham, who has played for England at the Under-19 and Under-21 levels, had agreed to play for the Super Eagles.
But the on-loan Swansea forward, who joined Chelsea from Bristol in 2016, denied pledging to play for Nigeria, stating publicly that he wants to play for England.
Onigbinde in a phone chat with Vanguard reporter said “We cannot deny that the player in question is talented but it is wrong of the NFF to run after him.
“The NFF is actually ridiculing Nigeria’s image out there with these running after players who don’t want to play for the Eagles,” the 79-year-old said.
“The player is right to reject Nigeria and openly so because he may feel obliged to the country of his birth – where he was nurtured and discovered. If he was not made by England, Nigeria would probably not have been running after him to play for the Eagles.
“In a population of over 150 million people with many talents in every corner, the football federation is busy running after ready-made products all over the world rather than building the ones at home.
“What has Abraham played to make him better than the talents in the domestic league?
“There are talents at home here, who are doing better than him and only need to be identified and brought to the national team to shine”.
Onigbinde said if the right things were done, players of Nigerian descent such as Abraham would be begging to play in the Eagles.
He said, “Rather than building the talents at home, the federation is busy organising competitions. Competitions are like examinations, which are taken at the end of a training exercise. The NFF should get people whose jobs are to identify talents.
“These set of people will go round the country and get talents together from the zones and train them over a period of time. These talents can then be tested in competitions to get the best out of them for the national teams.
“If we don’t do this, these players will keep rejecting Nigeria and holding the country to ransom, which shouldn’t be so.
“For instance, in 2002, after the Eagles were disbanded after the Africa Cup of Nations in Mali, I was brought in with less than three months to the World Cup (in Korea and Japan) to coach the team.
“The players from the disbanded team were expecting me to beg them to return but I never did so. I went with 32 new players for my first friendly match against Paraguay and when the old players saw what the new ones were doing, they reluctantly returned to the national team. They knew if they didn’t the younger ones would take their place.
“Such an experiment eventually paid off and we all saw the benefit in the person of Vincent Enyeama and some others. The NFF doesn’t need to run after those players if they do the right thing by grooming players on the home scene for the national team.”