By Babatunde Ojo
Eddie Ogbemudia, a registered football agent with several years of experience, working with topmost football agency Myron Topclass Sport Outfits, while speaking in an interview with journalists on Nigeria Sports Centre WhatsApp group stated this and more during a no holds barred session anchored by ace journalist Akeem Busari.
Ogbemudia whose company currently manages Super Eagles players Etebo Oghenekaro, Akpeyi Daniel, as well as, the likes of Ekene Olisema and Stephen Chukwude, is of the opinion that the clamour for the inclusion of home based players in the Super Eagles is a sense in the right direction.
” To some extent, I agree with some persons clamouring for the inclusion of home based players in the national team but if you consider their performances in the WAFU and CHAN competitions, you may have a rethink.
” But I believe if there’s a process of picking exceptional players to have appearance in AFCON and World Cup qualifiers, it will help to sell the league to attract European clubs. But overtime some of these home based players after representing the Super Eagles in one or two games, the next thing you see is that they are already in Egypt or Tunisia. But I believe that there are some exciting players in the NPFL that can fight for shirts in the Super Eagles”.
Ogbemudia, a licensed agent by the Nigeria Football Federation also explained the reasons why Nigerian players don’t attract the attention of top European teams like the way it was in the late 90s and early 2000s.
According to him, ” With my experience, I believe the composition of our teams from 2001 down as been woeful because the NPFL clubs don’t look for exceptional talents. They just rotate same set of players. A player will be in Sunshine Stars today and play for Kano Pillars tomorrow.
” In the 90s and 2000s, on a yearly basis you see new talents springing up but nowadays we recycle players who are not exciting enough to attract European teams. A player will score a good number of goals and fizzle out the next season. These days club managers rarely give exceptional talents the chance to showcase the talents they are made of”, he added.
On how it has been managing top Super Eagles stars like Oghenekaro Etebo and Daniel Akpeyi, despite their stardom, Ogbemudia said, “It has not been easy. Footballers, ordinarily, are like children. If you are a parent you will understand. They have their ups and downs, and you just have to come down to their level and reason like them and see how you can meet their needs.
” Sometimes, they make requests that are beyond the usual. But you just have to make them understand why they need it or they don’t need it at a particular point in time. It has however, been fun managing them especially now that they are famous. You just need patience and come down to their level”.
On the role of football agents, he said “It is basically being the representative and middleman between two clubs. An agent is the go-between of the two parties like the intermediary to see to the success of the business transaction”.
He further explained that FIFA has an existing regulation on working with intermediaries which was recently decentralized. The Football federations are in charge of monitoring the activities of agents. An intermediary cannot be a club owner or a coach”.
On his opinion on the contract renewal of Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, Ogbemudia said it is good for the sake of consistency and continuity. ” It is a good thing that the contract was renewed and I believe that with support from the players and the football federation he can go far with the national team”.
He also bared his mind about the ability of local coaches to succeed in charge of the Super Eagles like late Stephen Keshi. He said “Yes we can, Keshi did it before. We still have coaches that can still do it. The only thing is to give them the opportunity. If you don’t give someone an opportunity, you won’t know what he’s made of.
” I believe in our local coaches and if anyone is given the chance and freedom like Keshi even though he was under immense pressure, this feat can also be repeated”, he concluded.