By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Reigns Soccer Agency and FIFA license agent, Olawale Onipede says it will be hard for Nigeria Clubs to go far in the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup due to lack of preparation and Club structure.
“For Nigerian Clubs that will be participating in the next CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup. Nigeria league clubs must wake up from their slumber and also try to rise to the occasion. I am afraid. After all, I don’t see them going far in the upcoming competitions because many of these teams lack preparation.
“Apart from preparation, the structure of the teams are nothing to write home about because they are not up to standard and are not doing things in the right way. If things are not done in the right way, one should not expect a good result because no pain, no gain. In life, you must desire to acquire success. I can tell you that if you fail to plan, the result will come after you. The preparation of many of these Clubs towards the continental engagements has been so poor.” Says Onipede.
CoronaVirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected sporting activities across the globe. This coupled with government policies according to Onipede will also affect the performance of the Clubs asides from team preparation.
He said: “Apart from the pandemic that we all experienced globally which we can say also contribute to that aspect as well. The government as well did not release sports in time for contact sports because other teams in other countries have their contact sports released early before our government here did so after lots of pleas.
“For instance, the North African side which is being dominated by the Egyptians and the Moroccans, they have structured teams and good management structure. The management structure is key before we no start talking about the team itself. The reserve is the case in Nigeria where the team is being managed by the government. Before a decision can be taken, it has to be written and passed through a long bureaucratic process. This also affects the team. After all, when the team is not managed by a board or shareholders, things will become slow because those in government take decisions that will favour themselves.
“I don’t want people to have high hopes concerning Nigeria continental representatives because we have already seen the handwriting written that the preparation is poor.”
The 2019-2020 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL season was cancelled after 25 games with the final leave table decided based on Points Per Game (PPG), and Weighted Points Per Game (WPPG).
Plateau United and Enyimba Football Club will represent Nigeria at next season’s CAF Champions League while Rivers United and Kano Pillars will represent the country in the CAF Confederations Cup.
“The likes of Kano Pillars which just appointed a French Coach. One must question the decision whether the coach has the experience of coaching African Clubs and having the pedigree of managing a West African team. Kano Pillar is a good team, I know the Chairman. Many things must be considered before the Club can go far in the competition.
“With Enyimba, we know that they have won the CAF Champions League some times ago, but at the same time, they lack the confidence and structure which can’t be compared with the platform which they have before now. The platform if not broken might have been weak nowadays.
“Same thing with Rivers United. We saw the Club signing a couple of players. The worry is can these players measure up to the standard in the competition they’re going for? There is what we call team gel/work. We all hope for the best for them and pray for them. I wish them the best in the upcoming season and see how they can go far.” Onipede asserted.
He also says sports is a big and serious business in which Nigeria Clubs should be awake to this reality.
“Then the sports business in these Clubs is also important. Gaining $250,000 in the group stages goes a long way. Then get another $500,000 as well as getting $1.5m by getting to the final. This is strictly business. It’s high time our clubs in Nigeria wake up and know that football is a real business and not a mind game that can be toiled with. There is what we call scouting team, training methodology, player nutritionists, psychologist, characters, medicals, welfare, physiotherapy, and the rest involved in football structure. All these things must be put in place in these our clubs.
It’s not about one person passing one letter from the government house by signing and stamping before it would be approved.
“Experts must be brought into the game. One thing I detest most about our Clubs is that even though you are an expert, they won’t give you the free hand to work. Everybody thinks they know better than you in the system but it shouldn’t be like that. Agents and scouts also need to go for refresher courses to be upgraded. Change is what is constant in life. We now Video Assistant Referee, VAR in football now which was not there some years ago. This shows that things change. The rules of the game also change to show that the techniques and tactics of football are changing.
“Football has not changed in the process of adapting to technology. One must be technically and tactically sound off and on the pitch as a player, coach, and team. All these things must be put in place for the teams, players, coaching crew, and officials. Football now is a real business. I am very close to the Pyramids of Egypt and Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. Pyramids of Egypt is being owned by a group of company and family familiar with a team in the Premiership. People are ready to spend to get the results by bringing in experts. We were just contacted to help them get the best legs and they are ready to pay if we help them.” Says Onipede.
The Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL was tentatively fixed to kick off on November 15, 2020. With the current development of the League Management Company, LMC not organising the draws for the 2020-2021 season as well as Pre-Season Tournaments clashing with the exact date, it is not clear if the league will start on the said date.
“We were told that the Nigerian League will start at a certain date but I can tell authoritatively that that is a ghost date. I have never seen it in Nigeria where you have a fixed date for the league that will not be changed. The structure is not there for the management of the league as well which will also tell on the teams. Until we wake up from our slumber, then we will start seeing our team performing excellently in continental competitions. If not that we will continue to struggle and what we will hear is going back to the drawing board. This has been the drawing board that we have been going to. Hope the drawing board itself is not damaged yet.
“We travel out of the country and see how it is done, talk and clamour to see how these things can be done in Nigeria but I know that one day the change will occur whether we like it or not.
“Clubs also need to know how to generate money from fans. The only team that I know in Nigeria that generates money from fans is Kano Pillars. Kano Pillars should wake up because they are the team that should be richer than any other Club in Nigeria without winning continental titles with the number of fans at their disposal. There is a lot of business scope through which they can make money from their fans. There is an image right of the league and players are strictly business. It’s high time the Clubs need to source for money and not depend on the government. If we can do all these, we can raise our flag among other countries in Africa and our teams will go higher as we do in those days when we have Shooting Stars, Rangers International, Iwuanyanwu Nationale, BCC Lions, Bendel Insurance, and the way they make us proud. Let’s go back to that era and say that this is the Nigeria that we use to know with top players like Emanuel Okala, Christian Chukwu, Mutiu Adepoju just to mention a few. It’s high time we know that football is a big business.” He concluded.
Onipede’s Agency “Reigns Soccer Agency” has offices in Lisbon, Portugal; Egypt; Mauritius; and Mozambique
Olawale Onipede is popularly called Sir White by fans.
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