Adepoju, Okunowo Laud Nigeria, La Liga Partnership

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Ex-internationals, Mutiu Adepoju and Gbenga Okunowo have described the working relationship between Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and Spanish La Liga as an exercise in the interest of Nigeria.

League Management Company (LMC) President, Shehu Dikko, on Tuesday signed a five-year strategic technical agreement with La Liga President, Javier Tesba in Abuja that will pave the way for the tour of Nigeria by some of the Spanish clubs.

Adepoju, who featured for Real Madrid nursery team, Castella in 1989 before heading to Racing Santander, Real Sociedad and Salamanca in a 20-year sojourn in Spain, gave a thumb up to the deal, saying that Spanish teams for decades have consistently ranked as the world’s top football brands.

“I am very excited by this deal. Let me say it clearly, Spain has the best league in the world. The UEFA Champions League is a case study of two Spanish teams that have consistently berthed the semi-final and final. So what else are we talking about? Nigeria will benefit from this arrangement,” Adepoju submitted.

Adepoju, who represented the Super Eagles at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, said beyond his professional stint, he gathered an immeasurable knowledge in Spain where he acquired coaching certificate in addition to knowledge in football administration.

“Their philosophy will serve our interest in long time,’’ Adepoju said. “The only thing here is that we have to be patient and do things in right way and not expect immediate results. We should have a long term plan. That is what the Spanish did and you can see the result as they have won the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, FIFA Champions Cup and European Cup. I believe we can do it too because we have the talent in Nigeria.’’

Okunowo, who briefly played for Barcelona in year 1999, before he went on loan to Benfica of Portugal, reasoned Nigerians will have no regret entering into the technical agreement with La Liga.

The former Housing Corporation of Abeokuta midfielder noted that the promotion of the Spanish genre in the country will present Nigerians an alternative platform to the English Premier League which is more ingrained in the consciousness of the public.

“I have been to Spain before and I am sure we won’t regret this partnership. Their culture is similar to ours where respect is reciprocal. We see the future and the Spanish will be happy because Nigerians mainly watch English Premiership but now they can watch Spanish teams when they come for here for pre-season. I don’t think everything should be about the Premiership,’’ Okunowo submitted.