Veteran football coaches, Adegboye Onigbinde and Niyi Akande, gave divergent opinions when reviewing the recent selection of Nigerian Legends by the Nigeria Football Federation, (NFF).
A team starring Ann Chiejine, Austin Eguavoen, Christian Chukwu, Uche Okechukwu, Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Mercy Akide, Thompson Usiyan, Felix Owolabi, Segun Odegbami and Adokiye Amaesimeka, was named as Nigerian Legends, sparking controversies over the inclusion and omission of certain names in the selection.
While Onigbinde was non-commital, Akande condemned outright the team assembled by the NFF blaming poor archival attitude.
”I don’t know the guidelines or the yardstick used in picking the Legends so I would not like to condemn the selection,” said the handler who led Nigeria to 1984 AFCON and the 2002 World Cup.
It is only when I am aware of what they have in mind as criteria that I could fault or praise the effort.
However, Onigbinde believes that being legendary in football transcends sentiments and emotions.
”To me being a legend of football does not start and end with how many goals scored, how many titles won or personal achievement. However talented you are, if you were begged or cajoled before rendering national service to your or you are a poor example to your society or the sport itself, you are not a legend”.
Akande, meanwhile, believes the selectors are either too young or lazy judging from their output.
”I suspect young boys of the NFF made the selections. I understand Legends will be picked periodically but for the first edition, the heroes who made football possible before being popular in Nigeria should have been acknowledged.
”It is a grave oversight and such should not be repeated. Here there no archives at the NFF or the Secretaries at the football house left no information in the files? I don’t think the secretariat is devoid of archival materials, rather people are being lazy.”
Akande however said he was happy that three of the players-Ann Chiejine, Segun Odegbami and Felix Owolabi- he coached at different times, made the Legends team.