Monday May 15, 2023. 19:35
Nigeria under-17 head coach Nduka Ugbade has been blamed for the Golden Eaglets’ failure to qualify for the 2023 FIFA U17 World Cup finals.
The five-time World champions were knocked out in the quarter-final of the ongoing 2023 U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) by Burkina Faso last week.
Khamisu Ahmed Mailantarki, a Governorship aspirant in Gombe State during the just concluded general election, believes Coach Ugbade could have presented a better team.
“As a Nigerian and a patriotic Nigerian, I am very sad, it is not because we don’t have the players to beat any team in the world, but it is because of the modus operandi of the selection,” Mailantarki said on All Nigeria Soccer.
“The NFF has work to do because, we saw it coming, right from the onset. I happen to have some Under-17 players, very good players, that at a point the management called everyone to confess that these are the two most performing players in the national team camp. But unfortunately at the end of the exercise they were dropped.
“I asked for a reason, the national team coach was telling me that because they cannot communicate. I said how can you say communication, does that really matter in football?
“He was assuring the team that was saving them for the World Cup. How can you go to the World Cup when you don’t go with the best player? You left your best at home, saying you’re saving them for the World Cup? I say something is wrong, I prayed for him and I wish him success, but look at what happened?
“So, the selection process, I think the NFF has to come up with measures that will make sure that we don’t leave the best simply because they don’t have someone to push them or they don’t have someone to stand for them.
“Let the merit work, that is why I always commend and I always appreciate Manu Garba. When he was the national team coach, he switches players even in the friendly matches.”
Mailantarki continued : “There was a team that played a friendly match with them even right here in Nigeria, they beat them 6-4 or there about with outstanding players, you can imagine none of of the players of this team participated at the AFCON, meaning something is wrong somewhere.
“We have to be very practical about our selection and we cannot allow only the coaches to do what they have done in the face of every stakeholder, to drop the best players.
“We should have a way to make case for this because, this is a national issue, it is not all about the coaches, it is about the entire people of Nigeria. So we have to get the best to represent Nigeria.”