GOLDEN YEAR FOR NIGERIA NATIONAL TEAMS: Maigari Points Success to ‘Local Content Policy.’

The unprecedented success of Nigeria national teams, dominating Africa and in deed, the entire world as Champions in 2013 is down to the decision of Nigeria football federation (NFF) to uphold  what you may call ‘Local Content Policy.’

Super Eagles became champions of Africa in February after they won African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and since then, Nigeria national team has been soaring higher and higher. Last Saturday, the team qualified for Brazil 2014 Fifa world cup by dismissing Ethiopia by 4 – 1 aggregate win in the two legs play off.

Early in July, Home based Eagles qualified for the first time, to play in CHAN, a championship for African based players, which is slated for January 2014.

Perhaps, the icing of the cake was the way Golden Eaglets out played the entire world with such superlative performances at United Arab Emirate (UAE); where Nigeria’s under 17 team became world champions for the forth time in November.

In deed, it’s a golden year of football for the largest black African country, with over 160 million population, situated in West African region. It’s something of fulfillment for a country with such crazy fans, where football devotion and follower-ship is more like a religion.

And President of Nigeria football federation, Aminu Maigari claims, “The major factor has been the decision to look inward and tap from the vast resource we have; and as well the investment in our youth development in the past few decades…”

“I think it’s beginning to pay off and we are gradually getting into a new golden era in our football. We’ve broken the stronghold of ineptitude and spate of poor performances in the past. Our continuous  engagement of foreign coaches hasn’t entirely been successful, so we decided that the time has come when we can  begin to look at our ex-internationals and give them oportunity to move our football to the next level of glory,” he explained.

 Maigari said, that decision taken by Nigerian federation after a poor showing at 2010 Fifa world cup in  South Africa paved the way for the current triumph at continential and international level. Stephen Keshi’s success with Super Eagles this year has override Samson siasia’s failure in 2011 and has proved our insistence on developing our indigeous coaches.

The future of our  football may be in the hands of our ex-internationals as proved by Stephen Keshi, Daniel Omokachie and Ike shorumu at Super Eagles level. Then, Nduka  Ugbade, Emmanuel Amunike, and Emeka Amadi provided great assists for Manu Garba, in tutoring the under 17 side.

Another factor that seem to be paying off is our youth development through football academies and various talent hunt programs across the country.

One major football academy in the country – Pepsi Academy – may have been responsible for the development of such star players like: Mikel obi, Kenneth Omerue, Elderson Echiejine, Ahamed Musa, Onazi Ogenyi… who are now main stay in the national team today.

The federation’s decision not to allow any player that has played in the national league to be in the under 17 team may have paid off too. The various talent hunt programs such as  Copa Coca Cola, MTN Street Soccer, Gulder 5-Aside… may have helped discover players like Kelechi Iheanacho,  Isaac Success, Taiwo Awoniyi, Chidera Ezeh… Not forgetting the impart of  NNPC/ Shell Secondary school football competition.

Again, the future of Nigeria football depend largely on how the federation could organize these football academies as well as talent hunt programs and properly harness them for the benefit of the country. The Local Content Policy should also look at how to strengthen the local football leagues too.

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