Nigeria’s retired ace winger, Felix Owolabi and the mercruial midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju, have jointly called for positives from the Flying Eagles ouster from the ongoing U-20 World Cup in Poland.
They both made the calls while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday while reflecting on the Paul Aigbogun teams performance at the World Cup.
NAN reports that Nigeria’s U-20 side was eliminated by their African opponents, Senegal at the knockout stage, a game that ended 1-2.
In his assessment of the lads, Owolabi who also graduated from the youth team, said that the team was not that bad as many tagged them.
He said: “In every championship, there must be a winner and before anybody goes for a competition, the likelihood is that they are worthy champions, so everyone has 100 per cent chances.
“At the end, one team will win but what is important from what I have discovered from the performance of our team is that we should rather appreciate them.
“They should be praised for what they have been able to do so far. I have said it several times that Nigeria needs a football culture in a football structure.
“A football structure has to be on ground which will form the basis that we need to start getting them young right from the tender age of six, 12 and 15.”
Owolabi said it was high time the country stopped the fire brigade approach to age-grade competitions, adding that the players would have done better in a more organised structure.
He said: “In a situation where we in a couple of few months engage in a fire-brigade attitude by putting the players together will limit the level which they can attain.
“In some fire brigade approaches, we may get some results, but will not be enduring and will not help in the development of the game.
“The boys to the best of my knowledge tried their best which may not be enough, but I want the nation to appreciate them because of their individual efforts.
“Sometimes, we need the expertise of a coach because at this time around we must tell ourselves the home truth. We should not concentrate too much on the competition but the players.”
Adepoju told NAN that the Flying Eagles ouster should not be seen as a total failure but a wakeup call to make things right.
He said: “It is never a problem that we are eliminated, but it is unfortunate that we are. The team had some chances in which they failed to utilise and they are knocked out.
“I have seen some qualities in the team and some good players, but the problem is that we always want to win; I can say that our opponents, Senegal are better than us.”