…says German coach must copy Westerhof’s model
Ex-international Ike Shorunmu is worried that declining state of Nigerian football has degenerated to a level that the country now depends on players who were born and grew up in Europe to man the goal for the Super Eagles. Half of Coach Gernot Rohr’s current squad consist of players who were born or grew up abroad with the Dutch-born goalie Maduka Okoye being the German coach’s first choice.
Shorunmu who is a former Super Eagles first choice goalkeeper said although no Nigerian should be denied the opportunity to represent the country, it is worrisome the German coach had to comb Europe for goalkeepers. He said that it is disturbing to suggest that the technical crew cannot get goalkeepers from the domestic league who will be good enough to play for the Super Eagles.
He recalled that all of the top goalkeepers the country has produced in the past including himself, Peter Rufai, Alloy and Abiodun Baruwa got their recognition from playing in the league. “Honestly, I think the coach knows what he is doing; although it is hard to compare our time with now because times change but I think the coach needs to look inwards and get these goalkeepers.
I believe that we can get good goalies from the Nigerian league who will go ahead to become household names like us. I am a product of the league so also Rufai and others. We played here before we moved abroad and we were able to achieve much because we were discovered and encouraged,” he said.
The former Shooting Stars of Ibadan goalkeeper said the former handler of the national team Clemence Westerhof was able to achieve much during his time because he was keen on helping the Nigerian league. He berated Rohr’s decision to work from abroad when he could stay in the country and help the Nigerian league to grow by scouting for players who could possibly be invited to the national team. “The man has to stay here instead of working from abroad; the talents are here and that is the difference between him and Westerhof.
Our former coach was going round league venues to discover most of us who later found our way to Europe for professional football. He kept on inviting local players until he found the balance he wanted and all of us are celebrating that moment as our best in football because one man did what was right.
“Rohr’s presence at a league match will do a lot to lift our domestic division; if players know the national team coach is around, they would raise their game and the country will be better for it. I think it is not hardwork to look to Europe for goalkeepers; it is something we couldn’t have thought about some years ago because we always produce top level players and we must not allow that tradition to go,” he added.