Ex-international Daniel Amokachi, in this interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA, faults the Nigeria Football Federation for giving the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, a semi-final target at the last Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Excerpts…
What is your take on Alex Iwobi signing for Everton, a club you played for during your active days…
This is a young man that has a lot of talents. Arsenal was a good club, but Everton did a lot of crazy signings this season, same thing they did about three seasons ago and it never paid off. Sometimes it is not smart to keep on signing and signing; they signed about six players this season.
Super Eagles star Samuel Chukwueze has signed with Jay Z’s sports management label Roc Nations Sports.
What do you think other young players can do to command such market value?
It is about what you are, Chukwueze is a young player who has shown a lot of potential.
If you watched him from his first game in Spain, then you would know that this young player has something we have not seen in Nigeria players in recent years. And I think business is business. Jay Z is someone who has eyes for business and that shows a lot about that young man.
He should just keep doing what he knows how to do best and allow other younger ones coming behind to know there are lot of things to gain. But it is a shame that we keep acting as if sport is not a business in Nigeria.
In your generation you played with passion and even when you lost people would applaud the performance unlike nowadays that even in victory, people still complain. Why is this?
It is the generation, you and I can’t help out to solve the situation. It is not just about Nigeria, it is global. They just need to keep doing the best they can do, and keep collecting the huge money that we are seeing now in football, and we that watch them should keep enjoying what they are playing.
You started your career from the local league and rose through the ranks before traveling abroad, but now it is difficult to have our local league players playing in the national team, how do we go back to the old days?
It has to do with the administrators because they are the ones that give the coaches coming to the country instructions on what to do, and conditions to work with. I was blessed to work with the late Amodu Shuaibu, Austin Eguavoen and late Stephen Keshi, and I know their enthusiasm when it comes to the home-based players because they all came through the ranks.
That’s the difference between them and those coming from outside. Most people coming from outside are not Nigerians, they are not passionate about the players playing at home, they are just here to do their job and get paid, not like our own who are passionate on developing the players back home.
They know the talents that Nigerians possess especially if you go deep, we have the quality that can help. In 2013, we practically won the AFCON with home-based players; they qualified us for the championship and won it for us. Four or five players from the Nigerian league were starting games and that says a lot about the coach.
But everyone knows how these foreign coaches go about their job and you can’t blame them. We just keep hoping that the coaches will consider the players especially the young ones that are coming from the home front, and let them get a chance in the team.
But Westerhof was a foreign coach when he was in charge of the Super Eagles and he was able to discover home-based players like you…
That’s why I said it has to do with the mind-set of the person coming; Westerhof knew what he was doing. Before coming to Nigeria, he had already done some research about the country. He knew the quality of the players back at home and that’s what still happens till today.
There is no coach that will come to Nigeria without knowing full well that he will get to the semi-final or final, that’s the minimum as long as you know the right thing to do. If you want to prepare Egusi (melon) soup, and you get the right ingredients, you will get a good soup, same as leading the Super Eagles.
Would you say you are impressed with the quality of performance of the Super Eagles at the 2019 AFCON?
The quality of players is there, we got the third place because of the character and determination of Nigerians not because of the quality of football that we played, and that’s just the truth of it. I don’t know how true it is, but the coach said that he was given a semi-final target, for me as an ex-international and a Nigerian, that’s a big joke.
For a country that already won the title three times, played in the final several times and also won the bronze for many times, I think it’s a joke that we are giving a coach a semi-final target, it shouldn’t be, but that’s the situation in which we found ourselves. We just have to keep hoping and praying to get the best; that’s what we are known for in Nigeria.
What’s your impression about Gernot Rohr as a coach of the Super Eagles?
I don’t have any say about the coach, I only talk about the quality of football which tells a lot.
What will you say about Nigerian players playing in the English Premier League that started a week ago?
The EPL is the most watched league in the world, at the same time the bookies are still giving it to Manchester City, Liverpool. There is no difference in the two teams, as everything is still going for them. We just talked about Everton with all their crazy signings, Tottenham Hotspur is a team that you can always put your money on and think okay, as long as they don’t have a rough patch along the line.
But surprise wise, I don’t think we are going to have any surprises, because the two the teams (Manchester City and Liverpool) will continue battling with it. For now they are the best in the EPL, manager wise, quality and the formation they play, they are the best all round.
How far have you gone with your NGO?
My NGO is called Daniel Amokachi Foundation, it’s been around for like forever. It is not something new but I decided to keep it quiet. I joined the government and did a lot in the last year. I have been working with my partners in Turkey and we have been doing a lot of free medicals.
Not just that, we treat and give drugs and there is educational aspect of it; we have visited a lot of schools, donated stationery and helped out in giving scholarship to the young ones that cannot afford to pay their fees, something I do from my own pocket. It is something that we will continue to do because Nigeria is a country where we all need a helping hand.
It’s unfortunate that we cannot get all the things done at a go. We should just continue to do what we have to do to make as many people as possible happy.
I am so glad to see some of our young players like Ahmed Musa doing a lot of things for the society, Shehu Abdullahi and Oghenekaro Etebo, those are the young ones doing a lot of good things.
I just hope the younger ones are seeing this and also make more foundations to help Nigerians out. I want to tell those guys to continue doing what they are doing and also we need others to join them.
You decided to keep your foundation quiet, why? I decided to do that because what you do is between you and God and I have to give account to God too. I grew up in a home where things were done quietly. My dad had been doing same thing and we learned from him while growing up.
We are just seven in my family but my father has raised over 30 people up to the university level. I thank God for giving me the grace to be able to do it. I have been doing it since 1993 and I will continue to do it. I have seen life and luxury is nothing to me now.
If I have N10, I am happy to put N6 or N7 into helping people.
I am grateful to God for helping me and I pray that He keeps nourishing me so I can do more. Your mates and colleagues from different parts of the world are already going into politics. George Weah is now the President of Liberia, Didier Drogba recently announced his plans to go into politics.
Are we going to see Amokachi going into politics in the nearest future?
I am not a politician but I have been involved in several campaigns especially last year, but to become one, I don’t have the strength to be a politician. Only few politicians know who God is.
If you know who God is, it is difficult for you to go into politics.
If you know the kind of cartel and syndicates they have to be part of as politicians, then it is difficult to serve God. I do not want to jeopardise my relationship with God so I don’t think politics is for me.
As a Brand Ambassador of BetBonanza, what should we expect and hope it won’t affect your integrity if things go wrong?
I have been a brand ambassador for an agency in the past, but things didn’t go well as planned, so I decided to stay back, but when the CEO of BetBonanza called me, our first discussion was to ask him how real and what does it entail, because they must service the need of people who put their resources into the business.
We had a fruithful discussion; he gave me his name for me to investigate which I did, and I was able to know that he has been around for a while, in fact from when betting came into Nigeria.
He has worked with different agencies until God gave him the resources to start his own outfit. Its not just about starting an agency, you must know what it entails and that’s part of our discussion. As an ambassador, I just pray I don’t see the dark side like I did in the previous one.
They have to do the right thing, and it is our job to keep pushing them to do the right thing and satisfy the customers.