AFRICAN FOOTBALL IS BEYOND HAVING 11-11 PLAYERS ON THE PITCH -DIMEJI LAWAL
Former Super Eagles’ star and the acting General Manager of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) Ibadan, Dimeji Lawal has revealed that African football as it is today should be perceived far beyond the 11 and 11 players seen on the pitch of play.
He also added that there are ‘mysteries’ and ‘mystics’ in African football beyond having 22 players on the field.
His words “I think apart from these, corruption is one of the greatest problems affecting football and sports administration in Africa and this is even affecting our league. All these can only improve when we change our mindset”.
He further stated that that the ultimate aim of Shooting Stars Sports Club (Club) is to grab continental ticket, while denying the notion that the team is focused on not being relegated to the Nigeria National League (NNL).
Speaking further on the current position of 3SC, “I feel relaxed and better; the energy we bring into it is already yielding results. When people complain of the poor performances of the team, I took it upon myself to discuss with the coaching crew and they always assured me that things would get better”.
According to him, football is a process and does not require haphazard approach. We are just a new team in NPFL. We need to understand the terrain and build a team that can compete globally. There is a big difference between the NNL and the NPFL. It took Manchester City under Pep Guardiola some time before the club started competing globally with top clubs.
“In this part of the world, we are used to fire brigade approach and in football; there are three results which include draw, loss or win. We want people to support us at all times; we are investing our energies to win at all times and our aim is to get a continental ticket and not to get relegated”.
Dimeji Lawal further appealed to the Governor of Oyo State Engineer Seyi Makinde, not to renege on his promise to the team while calling for more support from interested individuals and stakeholders.
Speaking on how he ventured into football, “I grew up around Cocoa Research Institute area (CRIN) where playing football is seen as a top priority. My father was also a footballer while my late mother was an athlete for the then Western State. Sporting activities runs in our blood, even my brothers played in Atletico Madrid. My big break came in football when I signed for Femo Scorpions in Eruwa and I was paid around N4000”.
He further stated that he would have loved to be a lawyer while revealing that Diego Maradona is one of his favorite idols during his playing days.
The former Super Eagles player made these revelations while featuring on a weekly radio show, Parrot Xtra/Ayekooto on Radio’ anchored by Olayinka Agboola broadcast live on Splash 105.5FM, Felele Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State on Tuesday.
Lawal further stated that the coach of 3SC, Edith Agoye is technically gifted and not a pushover in football game planning while urging the club’s fans to continue to support the coaching crew in its bid to get a continental ticket at least.
Speaking on the vacant position of Super Eagles coach, “A good coach can come from anywhere, what I want is that they should hire a good and technically sound coach, it does not matter his origin or where he is from”.
Speaking further, “It is always good to have a round peg in a round hole. If an ex-footballer is given the opportunity to head the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), I am sure he will be able to handle the affairs better because of the experiences he has gathered during his playing days”.
The former Eagles player further stated that Nigeria could come up with a formidable Super Eagles team by developing and paying more attention to grassroots football teams in the country.
“Many of our football fields have been turned to mosques, churches and event centers. Also at the top, the Nigeria league has to be properly scrutinized because if the league gets better, we have more hungry players who are willing to play than the foreign-based players.
“Sometimes, the foreign-based players have nothing to lose if they do not perform well for their country. In Nigeria, do we give local coaches the same opportunity as we give foreign coaches? Why should we discriminate against an indigenous coach? NFF should support indigenous coaches to get results”.
He, also revealed that betting and gambling are constituting problems affecting football in Nigeria while revealing that gamblers are always frustrated after losing their hard-earned money on betting.
His words “I think it is wrong for fans to place bets and expect the players to read their betting tickets and perform according to what they have staked. A typical fan invests two hundred naira on betting and hopes to win a million naira. So, if the team now plays a draw instead of winning, the fan is now unhappy and ready to vent his anger. This type of scenario is hurting the game of football especially in Nigeria.”
He further stated that officiating in the NPFL is gradually improving while elaborating that there is need for further improvement in order to make the Nigerian league more competitive.