Sunday Dec 20, 2020. 15:00
Former Nigeria star Tijani Babangida says the national team has lost its “football culture” under the leadership of manager Gernot Rohr.
The 47-year-old, who starred as a winger for the Super Eagles in the 1996 Olympic Games, 1998 World Cup and two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, has lamented the way Nigeria has lost its unique style in recent years.
Babangida argues that this lack of identity has contributed to disappointing results of late, most notably the Super Eagles’ successive draws against Sierra Leone in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in November.
“We never knew Nigeria as a country that plays kick and follow football but we already lost our culture of football in Africa,” Babangida told Punch.
“We have our own culture of play, just like the Brazilians, and I believe only Nigeria and Brazil have that culture in football. But we have lost it.
“You will discover that whenever we play against any team with whatever tactics they come up with, they fall down easily when we start playing our game.
“Now we have changed and we are not looking for those kinds of players that suit the system. And then we find it difficult because we are playing the 4-4-2 defensive system and that’s why we are always having problems.
“Nigeria is a country with a lot of potential players and the only country that can compete with Nigeria in terms of potential is Brazil.
“We are almost the same as them and that’s why we were always beating other Africans or other nations when we played against them because we have the quality, we have the group and we also have the culture. But that culture is what we have lost.”