Nigerian football decline embarrassing, laments Fashanu
Former England international of Nigerian descent, John Fashanu, says his friends in London taunt him over the continuous slide in fortunes of the country’s football, The PUNCH reports.
The three-time African champions have been a shadow of themselves in recent times and their underwhelming display led to the sacking of Gernot Rohr in December 2021.
Despite the change of coach, things didn’t get better for the Eagles as they got knocked out in the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January 2022, before failing to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar two months later, after losing to Ghana on goals aggregate under the tutelage of former captain Austin Eguavoen.
Portuguese tactician Jose Peseiro thereafter took over the team last May but they are yet to have any real identity as fans continue to growl over their ineffective performance.
Once ranked the fifth-best playing nation in the world, the Eagles’ poor performance over the years have seen them continuously drop in the FIFA rankings and currently occupy the 35th position.
Speaking with The PUNCH, former Wimbledon star and FA Cup winner Fashanu said his friends in London teased him due to the Eagles’ poor performances.
He added that the major reason why the national team performed below expectations was because the wrong people occupied positions in Nigerian football.
“I have said this before and I will say it again because I think it is high time that the right thing is done — we need to bring people who have the knowledge of football into the federation because football is all about knowledge,” Fashanu said.
“We don’t need accountants or lawyers running our football; all we need is experience and people who can put this jigsaw puzzle that is broken a thousand times together again. Are we blind or not seeing what is happening in England and other parts of the world? Most of the coaches and people running the game used to be professional footballers. In England, the coach (Gareth Southgate) was a professional footballer, who was a very good friend of mine when I was at Aston Villa, now he is the manager.
“Administrative wise, go into their offices you see people who have knowledge of the game. I am in London and all I see are ex-footballers holding different positions and they are all full of football knowledge. But when I go to the NFF office, I don’t know anybody and I don’t see professional footballers but ex-bankers, ex-lawyers or anybody who can handle money.
“Football in Nigeria has declined and is so embarrassing and all of a sudden I come to London and I tell people I am from Nigeria, they say ‘oh my goodness, what a terrible team you got there.’ Before people used to say ‘wow, I am a big fan of the Super Eagles.’ Then it was a pleasure to come here and say you are a Nigerian and you see the affection people had for the team. But now, they just laugh at me and they even mocked me that Ghana beat us and denied us a World Cup ticket. It is so embarrassing that happened and even worst that their manager Chris Hughton was one of my closest friends when he was playing in Tottenham. Now, how do I even face him after I have lived in Nigeria for 17 years?”