Abuja – Godfrey Gaiya, the former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Sports, has called for the inclusion of Golden Eaglets players in the various senior national teams.
Gaiya told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday in Abuja that the victorious Golden Eaglets squad at the just concluded Under-17 World Cup in Chile merited senior teams’ call-ups.
The former lawmaker noted that the development of football in Nigeria would make meaning when the titles won at the cadet level reflect in the senior national teams.
“I am always surprised when people talk of upgrading; even if we win the under-17 title one hundred times, if we cannot make any impact in the senior national teams, we are doing nothing.
“For me, the Golden Eaglets are supposed to be the future national team, unfortunately in this country; we have over-celebrated victory at the under-17 level to the detriment of the senior national teams.
“Nothing stops a 17-year-old from playing for his national team if he is good enough; Pele played when he was 16 and we have others that played when they were 17 and 18 years.
“Upgrading means promotion and promotion does not come if you are not competent,’’ Gaiya said.
He declared that failure to utilise the victory of the Golden Eaglets to boost the performance of the senior national teams could be seen as failure of the country’s football developmental programme.
He said: “we won the same trophy two years ago; where are the players that won that trophy; are they in the senior national teams?
“We have won it other times, how many of those players progressed from that level to being regulars in the senior national teams.
“We have seen other nations that have used the success of their under-17 team to build a team that has about eight players of the previous under-17 winners.
“So, I think we must scientifically and analytically without fear and bias, look at why we cannot go beyond winning an under-17.
“These are the areas I want us to look at as football administrators because I have seen that every year we talk about promoting.’’
Gaiya urged the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to re-evaluate its style of grooming and discovering players for the senior national teams to ensure optimal results.
He commended the Golden Eaglets for winning an unprecedented fifth Under-17 World title and for also shattering the goal scoring record of the cadet World Cup. (NAN)