Administrators of football in Nigeria, and not the players, should bear all the responsibility of the failure of the home-based Super Eagles to qualify for the 2020African Nations Championship (CHAN), according to ex-Nigeria international, Sam Sodje.
Sam Sodje, whose brother Efe Sodje represented Nigeria in the 2000 African Cup of Nations and the 2002 World Cup, has expressed his delight at the inability of the CHAN Eagles to pick a qualification ticket while charging the country to hold her top football officials accountable for the stunted growth of the Nigeria league.
The home-based Super Eagles claimed a 2-0 victory over Togo in the second leg of their CHAN qualifier but, having lost the first leg by 4-1, were knocked out on 4-3 aggregate.
The former Leeds United defender, Sodje, who made four appearances for Nigeria in a four-year period, also lamented the poor state of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL), stating that players’ inactivity for over four months after the 2018/2019 season ended was the biggest factor in the Eagles defeat.
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“I am happy that the CHAN Eagles did not qualify for the championship. I did not even wish for the CHAN team to win at home. The CHAN championship is meant for Africa countries that have quality leagues to display their local talents to the world,” said Sodje in an interview monitored by Soccernet.ng.
“Nigeria does not deserve to be there because our league is nothing to write home about. The league that is not functioning and well organised cannot be a good representative of the Africa continent.
“I feel bad that the players could not play at the international level after being stopped from the mainstream Eagles.
“The NFF has continued to neglect the domestic league because there are no measures to hold anybody responsible for the deplorable state of the NPFL.
“If the CHAN Eagles had qualified for the competition, the federation would have been glad to be at the championship to benefit from the estacode even when they have done nothing to develop the league. I will not stop talking because Nigerian football needs total revamping.
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“The players are suffering and Coach Imama believes the domestic players are not teachable. That is not true. He is my friend.
“The major problem the domestic players have is that they are not given the best assistance like their overseas-based counterparts.
“This involves an attractive salary, quality medical service, top-grade training facilities, insurance, etc. Our league needs publicity like the premiership,” Sodje said.