Abuja - Former Super Eagles captain Sunday Oliseh on Monday in Abuja warned that Nigerian football fortunes could further nosedive if the country’s sports administrators failed to change their methods.
Oliseh, who spoke while presenting the Football Group’s action plans at the Presidential Sports Sector Retreat, said urgent action was needed to stem the tide.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the retreat held at the State House’s Banquet Hall was tagged ``Harnesing the potential of Nigeria’s sports sector: From playground to podium’’.
The football group which had Oliseh as its facilitator had been mandated to develop during the breakout session concrete action plans for the sport to win a gold medal at the Rio Olympics.
"We are a country of over 162 million people and the most blessed nation. But for us to return to the number one spot in Africa, we need to do a lot.
"For now, even, we need to get beyond what we were between 1994 when we reached number five on the FIFA rankings and 1998 when we wowed the world because the world has moved.
"So, if we continue with the way we have been doing things, our football will definitely get worse,’’ the former midfielder said.
He said government needed to put in place a world-class coaching academy, adding that it could materialise only with the direct intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan.
"The state governors as well as all the ministers need to also work with the President on this because we have to set up an academy that will help us produce coaches as well as grade them," Oliseh said.
He said more graded coaches were needed to transform the numerous football talents spread across the country into world-class players.
The former player of Ajax Amsterdam FC and Juventus of Italy said the academy could start with 38 students drawn from all the 36 states and the FCT.
"This academy is not to teach them the theoretical aspect only, but the practical aspect of coaching as well. In this regard, we can look at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Lagos in view of its location.
"It has four pitches that would be very useful, and will be less costly to put in place for us," he said.
Oliseh said the group also took a look at the Nigerian Premier League and decided that it could be better if players were well paid and on time.
"Not only that, we need to change the way governments run and sponsor clubs. We need to privatise the clubs; this privatisation has to be gradual in order not to disturb what we have presently.
"The privatisation is necessary because it breeds competition and what government only needed to do was to help provide the necessary infrastructure and the lasting and effective management structure," he said.
The ex-international, whose group also has his former national teammate, Nwankwo Kanu, also called for a better working relationship between the National Sports Commission and the Nigeria Football Association.
NAN reports that other members of the group included Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Dominic Oneya, Heinz Marotzke, Victor Baribote, Aminu Maigari, Tunji Babalola, Musa Amadu and Sani Toro.