Playing in China better than sitting on bench: Ekpo •Wants home-based players in Eagles squad

By Maduabuchi Kalu on March 18, 2017

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As many Nigerian players based abroad are streaming to the Chinese league to earn bigger pay, former national team midfielder, Friday Ekpo, has thrown his weight behind such players saying it is better to play in the Chinese league than to be a bench warmer in Europe.

According to him, it does not add up that a national team player will be sitting on the bench in the name of playing in the top league; rather it is better for such a player to find where his services will be more appreciated and recognised even if it is China or any other league.

The former Abiola Babes and Iwuanyanwu Nationale midfielder explained that playing regularly in a club is far better than being used as a training material and at the end of the day you will not be used.

“On the exodus of some of our national team players to the Chinese League, I would first and foremost like to say that it is a welcome development,” Ekpo declared.

“Why I said that it is a welcome development is that it is not in the interest of the player or the national team for some of our national team players to be sitting on the bench at their various clubs.

“There is no player worth his salt that would like to sit on the bench when he’s not nursing any injury. The joy of every player is to feature for his club regularly and in so doing; he will be able to display those attributes, those qualities he is known for and at the same time add value to the club and to his national team.

“So, as far as I am concerned, I see their migration from Europe or elsewhere where they are not playing to China where they will command regular playing time as something good for our football.

“How can a national team player be sitting on the bench of his club and at the end of the day such a person would be asked to come and represent us? So, I welcome the movement of the like of our captain, John Obi Mikel and Brown Ideye who have crossed over to the Chinese league where they are sure of playing regularly for their clubs.

“There is an adage that says ‘it is better to be a servant in the Kingdom of God than to be Master in Hell’. It was unheard of during our time that a player sitting on the bench is called-up to the national team let alone fielding such a player.

“No matter how good you are as a player, if you are not playing in competitive matches you can never be in competitive form. If you are not playing, you can never be sharp; you will certainly be match-rusty. So, it is good that they have left their respective sides in Europe to move to China where their services are required.

“Apart from the financial gains that follow the movement, it is very good for their career,” Ekpo explained.

Speaking further, the former assistant coach to Akwa United said it is high time the technical crew of the Super Eagles considered the inclusion of home-based players in the Super Eagles team.

 According to him the coaches particularly the Technical Adviser, Franco-German Gernot Rohr will do Nigerian League a favour by staying here in the country now that the league is on to watch the various teams at the various centres with the sole aim of fishing out highly talented players and include them in the team.

“There is one request I would like to make to the technical crew of the Super Eagles, which is; they should be able to discover some talented players in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) and include them into the national team.

“Now that the league is on, I would specifically like to appeal to the Technical Adviser of the team, Gernot Rohr, to spend some time in the country and go round various venues and watch the league games. If he does, I am convinced that he will be able to fish out very good players and incorporate them into Eagles.

“We have a lot of good players in the league and I believe that if the Eagles’ technical crew could monitor players at the different venues, they will find nothing less than between 10 and 15 good quality players that they can inject into the team,” Ekpo said.

•Photo shows ex-international midfielder Friday Ekpo.

Source Daily Sports

Posted March 18, 2017

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