Nigeria Professional League (NPFL) former veteran, Victor Ezeji has spoken out in defence of the home-based Eagles, who failed to rise to the occasion the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations in Thies, Senegal and could not qualify for next year’s Championship of African Nations (CHAN 2020), as he opined that the players did not receive the same kind of attention that is accorded those in the main national team.
Speaking against the backdrop of the domestic side’s defeats by Togo and Cape Verde at Senegal 2019 and the ousted last weekend by the Togolese in the CHAN qualifiers, Ezeji reckoned that players in the home-based squad would do better once their get equal opportunities as the array of professionals from overseas that are in the main Eagles.
The former Sharks of Port Harcourt icon, whose spent only one season of his career playing abroad and never got adequate attention in the national team, argued further that the current levels of discrimination in terms of welfare and pay for home-based players and those invited from overseas causes sub-conscious levels of discouragement that could prevent good results.
He stressed that disparity in the kind of money accorded players in the main Eagles will always engender circumstances in which the home-based side will keep falling short, as the players will not be spurred to give their best, with their morale very low and zeal limited, even if they do not come out to speak openly about their grievances.
The smooth-talking NPFL icon also warned that the country’s remaining clubs in the continental terrain, Enyimba of Aba and Rangers International of Enugu might struggle in this weekend’s CAF Confederation Cup play-off matches because their players have been overstretched in pre-season and their morale is low because they are not getting match bonuses that come from featuring in the league.
Ezeji submitted on Brila FM: “We are talking about the home-based Eagles not doing well, that they lost twice to Togo and even Cape Verde, but it’s all about the kind of attention they get. We have to give them equal opportunities as we give those from overseas.
“Give them equal opportunities and see how they will play better. Look at the money that is spent on those that are invited from abroad. The money spent on them is very big, compared to what those at home get, not only with their clubs, but also in the national team’s camp.
“I am sure that the solution to seeing the home-based team do better is for us to give them equal opportunities with what those from abroad are getting. Give them equal opportunities, and see how they will begin to win matches and competitions for Nigeria.
“At the moment, the pre-season they are having is even more than the league season itself. They are playing and playing in pre-season, training every day, but no competitive matches to play. At the same time, their source of income is being limited, because they are not getting match bonuses that would have come from playing in the league.”