Former Super Eagles’ defender, Ifeanyi Udeze has blamed the struggles by Nigerian clubs in the African continental terrain on the late kick-off for the domestic league, as he reckons that all the players are not yet in competitive mood.
Speaking against the backdrop of a goalless home draw for Enyimba of Aba in the CAF Champions League, and a 2-1 away loss for Rangers of Enugu in the Confederation Cup, Udeze argued that both clubs went out against teams that already thick into the nitty-gritty of league action in their respective countries, unlike Nigeria’s delayed season.
The former PAOK Saloniki of Greece and West Bromwich Albion of England left-back pointed out that the Rangers and Enyimba’s players are yet to get into competitive mood, considering that the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is not on, and he reasoned that determination on their part cannot suffice against opponents who are already in the thick of domestic action.
He reckoned further during his analysis on Brila FM that build-up friendlies and regular training sessions are not enough to put players into competitive mood, hence his verdict that The Flying Antelopes and Peoples’ Elephant struggled for form in last weekend’s matches against Pelicans of Gabon and Al-Hilal of Sudan respectively.
Udeze argued: “It’s true that they have been training and played some friendly matches before going for the continental fixtures, but training and friendlies are not the same as competitive matches.
“It is in matches that a player will give his best, but he can hold back in a friendly, because nothing much is at stake. You raise the ante when you play competitive matches.
“That’s what they would have got had the league been on before they went for the continental matches, but they did not get that advantage.
“Instead, because our league is yet to begin, our clubs went against teams that are already in the competitive mood in their own countries, and the results are there to show.”