Former Super Eagles midfielder Seyi Olofinjana speaks exclusively to Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI on his expectations from the FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning starlets and the Super Eagles squad that will begin their quest for a ticket to the 2018 World Cup with a second round qualifying game against Swaziland on Friday…
Nigeria just won the FIFA U17 World Cup for a record fifth time in Chile. While watching the team during the World Cup, did you have fears they might not get as far as the semi-finals after the group stage defeat to Croatia? Perhaps complacency was beginning to set in, you might think…
With regards to our U-17 team that just won the World Cup, there was no doubt in their abilities but I was fearful of their cohesion initially and whether or not they would fade away as the tournament progressed, which is typical of our national teams but they kept the fire burning till the end. Fair play to them.
Victor Osimhen finished the tournament as top scorer with a new record of 10 goals scored in a single U-17 World Cup tournament. Some Nigerians believe we have a new partnership in prospect for the Super Eagles between him and Taiwo Awoniyi. That must be promising, isn't it?
Victor's heroics at the World Cup are just phenomenal. He scored goals with ease but amazingly kept his desire to get better with each game. Only God knows what the future holds. A partnership with Taiwo Awoniyi will be great but my prayer is that we keep nurturing these youngsters and build up systematically such that they fulfil their potential.
What reward do you think is appropriate for the team from President Mohammadu Buhari's government?
The team should and must be adequately rewarded (left to the Federal Government) but essentially we should disallow individuals resting on their laurels and encourage them to strive towards greater things.
A school of thought is of the opinion that when a player is good enough, he is old enough. Do you feel the present Golden Eaglets players are good enough for the U-23 Eagles or the senior national team now, or they should just be allowed to concentrate on progressing to the U-20 level first?
These U-17 stars are by no means good enough to play for the Super Eagles. Gradual introduction into the fray would be key though. I will love to see them rise through the ranks but they could be invited for camping with the big boys or for friendlies.
The Super Eagles are playing against Swaziland in a 2018 World Cup qualifying match on Friday. Obafemi Martins is back in the team, OdionIghalo is in form, Kelechi Iheanacho is invited too. Do you feel we're going to see a strong Super Eagles like the 90s and early 2000s in Sunday Oliseh's squad?
I am pleased with the individuals joining the Super Eagles. I'm excited by the recall of Obafemi Martins and the invitations of Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi and some other exciting players but thinking they will come together in a short period of time and set the world ablaze is kidding ourselves. Yes, it has the potential of being a good or great squad again but only time would tell.
So many Nigerians follow the English Premier League. You once played in the Premier League for Stoke City yourself. How do you see the bad season of Chelsea and the many troubles of Jose Mourinho, the promise shown by Arsenal and the surprise by a few so-called mid-table teams in the EPL like Leicester City and West Ham United ?
Chelsea's season has been disappointing really. They need to start winning regularly. The fact that some of the so called "mid-table teams" are doing well in the EPL is testament to how managerial experience is key in galvanising "ordinary players" into world beaters. Simply put, man management is very, if not more important than being a tactical genius.
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