.The Peter Ijeh Column Salutes Keshi’s Home-Eagles –
The 2014 African Nations Championship, CHAN, has come and gone but the memories are still fresh.
Thanks to the Nigeria League Management Committee, LMC, for providing the platform where such talents were selected, and thanks to the technical crew for taken a chance on the home-based players. CAF also needs some commendations for insisting that a Grade B African Cup of Nations is held for the players featuring in various leagues across Africa.
And, Gold, Silver or Bronze are all in same category of medal jackpot. Howbeit, the Nigerian side making it to win a bronze medal in their first attempt, and coming from 0-3 down to beat Morocco’s Atlas Lions 4-3 in the quarter final is another ‘Miracle Of Cape Town’, a reminiscence of what Nigeria did in Saudi Arabia (Damman Miracle) back in 1989.
That’s a wonderful performance by Coach Stephen Keshi and his team, and it’s a good sign of better prospects for the future of Nigeria Professional Football League players.
All the results are positive proof that soccer players can be successfully developed in Nigeria, where soccer is at its best, the first major sport.
The results achieved by Nigeria at 2014 CHAN, also point to the positive developments and advancements in the youth soccer scene, as it relates to club-sides and player development.
I believe that we would better serve soccer if all operated at the top of professional standards. Right now, there is no real quality control and club operations can vary greatly from one club to the other.
Nigeria needs very good and professionally minded persons including corporate sponsorship to put the clubs in a better place. We must clean up the landscape and redefine what youth soccer in Nigeria ought to be. State, private and corporate sponsorship should be encouraged.
As a nation, we must raise the bar as to what a club should look like so that the parents have a clearer picture when making very important choices for their children.
Those at the helm must make it very clear that player development be embraced as top priority for all clubs.
However, one of my biggest concerns with the “Pay As You Go” system that is currently in place is; ‘where does the late bloomer go to stay in order to continue in a competitive environment?’ Clubs need to provide quality programs for all categories of youngsters being discovered.
This is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight. Because desperate times call for desperate measures. If we believe that a drastic decision can cut back losses and reverse the fate of the Nigerian Professional Football League, whereby the passion and momentum of the league will catch the glimpse of soccer loving fans and re-capture Africa and rest of the world, then it’s better to act, even if there is a sliver of chance that will come out victorious, the risk is worth it.
We must begin by Evaluating the Expectation. Yes, we have to evaluate the expectations of the league against realistic benchmarks, that’s one way we can build on the success achieved by the Home-Eagles at 2014 CHAN.
Hope you enjoyed this edition. Always remember to poke in some goals as always. Join me again in a fortnight and till then, have a blissful day.
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