Former Nigerian captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha
Former Nigerian captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha has admitted that players from the domestic league are the future of the Super Eagles, but are at least three years away from being ready.
Head Coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi has been experimenting with local players, but the former Bolton Wanderers midfield genius said that they still need time to gain consistency.
"I guess it is definitely the way forward, but I don't think the home-based players are ready yet, so if I were in Keshi's shoes I would be trying to get them ready in the next 3 or 4 years," Okocha, now a member of the NFF Technical committee, said during a live web chat on the GuinnessVIP mobi platform.
He however concedes that there are a few talented players who can make the squad, but plumps for the more exposed Europe-based players.
"Of course, if some of them are so talented that they are quick learners then I would include them in my squad, but the truth is that we still have so many professional players who are hungry and eager to play for their country, so it will be better to use them as they have that level of exposure."
With Nigeria turning to focus on the home-grown lads after years of disappointment, Okocha agrees that the future is at home. "Definitely the future lies in those new players, but for the moment they cannot be as consistent as where we want to be."
Okocha also spoke about his relationship with former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho and how he mentored the former Brazil star.
"I had a great time at PSG and Ronaldinho was like my kid brother. I realised he was just so talented and he just needed someone to guide him. And I'm so glad he turned out to become a world class player.”