Former Nigeria assistant coach, Daniel Amokachi, says unnecessary distraction and the inability of Nigerian players to adapt quickly to the demands of the African game contributed to Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
The three-time continental champions failed to qualify for their second consecutive AFCON last month. The Super Eagles slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Egypt in the preliminaries, who claimed the qualifying group’s only place at Gabon. They also failed to qualify for the 2015 edition in Equatorial Guinea.
Amokachi told FIFA.com that the players found it difficult to switch their mentality from the European style to the African style when they played for the country.
He said, “The players, when they return to play in Africa on international duty, forget to switch (mentally). It’s something that we kind of struggle with – not only as Nigerians, but as Africans.
“You play in Europe and everything you get is professional from A-Z and then when you come to Africa, the likes of transportation and accommodation can seem a distraction.
“The players forget to switch to being African when they come back and that always makes them perform less than what they do at club level. I’m sure that has contributed to Nigeria not making it to back-to-back championships.
“Not qualifying for the tournament is not good enough for a country like Nigeria, but that’s football. It makes you sit up and say: ‘We have a lot of work that needs to be done.’”
Amokachi, who became the coach of Finnish side, JS Hercules, in January, also said his sojourn in Finland is to open doors for other African coaches in Europe.
“It is my first experience as an African manager coaching in Europe and there are not many Africans who are head coaches in Europe,” the former Club Brugge, Everton and Besiktas star said.
“They are giving me a platform as an African to showcase what I can do and if I do well, it’s an open door for other African coaches.”
Meanwhile, Nigerian giants Enyimba will look to complete an aggregate victory over Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel when the teams meet for the second leg of their CAF Champions League second round clash in Sousse on Wednesday.
The Peoples’ Elephant claimed an emphatic 3-0 home win in the teams’ first meeting in Port Harcourt earlier in the month, with Mfon Udoh scoring a superb hat-trick.
The Tunisians are also promising a hostile reception for the visitors, with the Olympic Stadium in Sousse a sell-out ahead of the clash, though Enyimba forward Abu Azeez believes that his side is on course to progress to the next stage of the competition.
“We must qualify for the group stage and therefore we are going to fight for it in Sousse. This is the Champions League, if you want to go far you must overcome small and big teams,” Azeez told Completesportsnigeria.com.