Former Super Eagles’ defender, Waidi Akanni has added his voice to reactions trailing the invitations of Chelsea’s Nigerian-born duo of Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori to England’s senior national team, with a verdict that is high time Nigeria stops wooing players born abroad.
Rather than keep pressure on Nigerian-born players to switch allegiance and play for their parents’ country, Akanni is of a view that it would be better to look inwards for home-grown talent, but admits that means improving the domestic league and scouting at the grassroots.
The under-20 team, Flying Eagles’ product, who starred in Nigeria’s historic team to the 1985 World Youth Championship (WYC) in Mexico, warned that continued focus on players born to parents from the country based in foreign lads would only mean putting pressure on those who do not have the required level of patriotism, loyalty and commitment to the nation.
He added during Mega Sports on Star 101.5 FM, Lagos that sourcing for players from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and youth soccer competitions across the country would go a long way towards boosting all levels of development for the game in the federation, with better impact on the Eagles, through players that are truly in touch with demands from the fans.
The ex-player, who went on to become chairman of Lagos State Football Association, concluded with a verdict that the like of Abraham and Fikayo Tomori will not be missed, considering that the Eagles are already saturated with a surfeit of young talents, who he believes can bring more glory home to the Nigeria once they are encouraged further and given enough support.
Akanni posited: “Let’s look inwards. We should start talking about improving our league and scouting for hidden talents at the grassroots. We should not be excited about players born to Nigerian players abroad. Why not develop our own home-grown talent instead?
“We are talking about Tammy Abraham, but he does not care for Nigeria. We have players who are equally good as he is. We have to talk about those players who grew up in our country and are truly committed to the country, not those born in countries abroad, where their loyalty is.”