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INTERVIEW: Oma Akatugba, the UNILAG dropout who became renowned international sports journalist



Oma Akatugba

“I have had a lot of proud moments so far and it is hard to pick one,” Oma Akatugba said over the phone.

I had just asked him to name the biggest highlight of his sports journalism career. Truly, the German-based Nigerian sports journalist has had fantastic moments.

There is the interview with Pep Guardiola, present Manchester City manager and one of the biggest managers in football history. 

There was the interview with two-time unified world heavyweight champion boxer, Anthony Joshua, whose reference to his Nigeria roots became the topic of national discourse. 

And there was the 2017 interview with veteran coach Carlo Ancelotti that made the name ? Oma Akatugba ? ring all over the world. 

In the build up to the fateful UCL game against PSG, Oma who was the only black man in the press conference asked Ancelotti, then manager of Bayern Munich, the biggest club in Germany, a question that generated a lot of laughter from both the Italian manager and other journalists present at the conference.

“You lost against Hoffenheim and drew against VFL Wolfsburg, ” Oma said. “And of course that has elicited, Ancelotti interjected “further, we won against Dortmund, we won against Mainz, we won against Anderlecht, we won against also Schalke, don’t forget. ”

“Yes,” continued Oma, “I am talking about the build-up to this game and that has elicited a lot of criticism, are you scared that you might lose your job if you get beaten by PSG tomorrow?”

“Strong question, where are you from?” quizzed Ancelotti, “I am from Nigeria and European football is very popular in Nigeria and that is why I am here,” said Oma.

Oma Akatugba
Oma Akatugba

“I am very happy that Nigerian people take care of my life,” said Ancelotti. “I don’t think it is an important game tomorrow. It is true we didn’t start at the top but it is only the beginning of the season so it will be an important game tomorrow, not decisive.

“It is a prestigious game of course. We want to show our best, we want to try to win and we want to try to be in the first place of the group. This is the goal and nothing worse.” 

Bayern Munich suffered a 3-0 defeat, and Ancelotti was indeed sacked. Oma was praised in the footballing world for having the foresight to predict the sack. 

Oma’s career trajectory from Mundial Sports International studio in Agbado Ijaiye to Europe may have played out in the public, but NewsWireNGR’s Oladele Owodina explored the background stories in this week’s profile interview. 

What was growing up like for you?

Growing up was normal. It was a mixture of good and bad. I was born in a place called Agboju, in the Festac Area. We were a large family. I was the second to the last. I grew up in a family where there was always competition. There was always drama, because my father was a polygamist. He had three wives, so we all lived in the same house.

It was interesting, but he tried to provide for us. We had a normal life. We were not living in face me I face you apartment. We had our own big house, but it wasn’t all rosy, it was quite tough. 

I attended Olumole Primary School. It was tough growing up. It was normal like every average Nigerian kid. Having to struggle for everything. Those days we used to sell water.

My dad moved from Agboju to Ikorodu. While we were schooling in Ikorodu Government College, my dad, anytime he came to visit us, he found that he could buy landed property in that area. and build a house of his own. Because we were paying rent in Agboju. When he built a house of his own, we moved to Ikorodu.

Our dad was a disciplinarian. We had a roaster where we took turns to sell water. When I sell water, I would make some money and that money is what I will use to go to the stadium to go and be able to see all the Larry Izamojes of this world, all the Ejiro, Charles Anazodo, Godwin Enakhena, and others.

So I will just shake hands and be like I want to be like these guys and I would go back to Ikorodu. That was what growing up was like and it was interesting.

You now stay in Europe; and life is obviously different for you and your family. Can you compare the lifestyle you had as a child to that of your children’s?

The difference is too much, my children are privileged. They are born first and foremost into a country that cares for everybody. A country that makes sure that every child goes to school. A country that makes sure that no child lacks basic things in life. A country that protects the health care of every child, that gives every child an opportunity to succeed. 

They have parents who understand that we are in a different era. Parents who are able to give them everything they need. I will say that they are born into a country that is working. I grew up in a country that does not work.

A country that is even struggling till today to provide basic things for its people. I was born into it,  I grew up into it, I left it and it’s still the same.

My children are lucky to be born into a country that is stable, a country that is one of the best countries in the world and they are having a great life. They have everything that they need and I think that difference is too much.

How did you get into journalism?

I didn’t go to school to study journalism. I didn’t even want to go to school because I felt it was a waste of time. I’m the kind of guy that likes going against the tide.

When I was growing up, it’s still probably the mentality, but it has changed a little bit. Back in the days, the ideology was who went to school had a better chance to succeed. In the environment, if you wake up to hear that your neighbor’s son has gained admission into Ile Ife, LASU, you start to feel like you are a failure. 

I wanted to make a difference, to prove a point that I can make it in life without going to university. I was very rebellious against the ideology that if you do not go to the university, you will not succeed.

I had a passion for football, right from when I was young. As early as five or seven. I started following football passionately. My elder brother and his friend discussed Africa Cup of Nations, all those days of Abedi Pele, Rashidi Yekini, when they discussed those players and African football, I would pay rapt attention.

It was so interesting. That was how I realised that I loved football so much. I started to watch football on TV. I started to watch football in Germany. Back in the day when Jay Jay Okocha used to play in Germany. I watch all those international football shows on NTA. I was watching all the football shows from morning to evening, and listening to all the radio shows on football. I was starting to imagine myself talking on radio and TV. 

When I was in secondary school, if I went to school, I would not go with school books, I would go with complete sports and sports souvenirs.

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One day, one of my school teachers, science teachers accosted me at the gate and asked, “Where are your books?” and I showed him Complete sport. He was like, “you don’t have a book and you have a newspaper. You have to tell me where your class is, I’m coming to deal with you later.” 

He came looking for me, but I was just laughing because he couldn’t recognise me. He would have really dealt with me that day. He was a very disciplined teacher. So my life was all about football. 

My friend, my school classmate, was talking to me a few days ago. He was telling me how back in the day, people used to laugh at me because I was only talking about football. He said what they liked most about me was that I didn’t even care. That I was so confident, even back from school days.

He started to make me realise how far this character that I have till date is not something that I developed after I started to make some money or after I became more mature. No, I had been like this even when I was a nobody. So it’s not like I developed it after I became somebody. It’s been part of me from the get-go. During the break, I would gather with my friend, and we would talk about football. We would talk about Hristo Stoichkov, Maradona, and other great players. 

That was the only thing I did all my life. I also liked music. I used to sing. I didn’t like the lifestyle of musicians so I opted for football journalism, because I felt it was decent and it aligned more with my personality and the kind of life I wanted to lead.

So that was why I went for football. My elder brother saw my passion for the game. He saw how much I loved the game. I even created an office in my room, I had posters of international footballers. I started to imagine myself in my office as a sports media, sports marketer, and sports person. It all came to reality. 

My elder brother started a couple of TV shows and there was a sports show. He called me, saying you like football a lot. This was in 1999 and. I was almost 18. I was called to anchor the football show called Football Na Play. Boy! It was very difficult. It was a recorded tape so we had to do a hundred takes before we could get one. It was so difficult.

After that show died, I went to the stadium to look for a new opportunity. I met a woman called Rebecca. I spoke to her. She said come to NTA. I would go to NTA, I would watch her do preparations for the show. I basically started to do an apprenticeship under her. How to prepare for a show, how to produce a show and then I started to present. 

From there, I went to Galaxy, where I was the head of sports presentation, production and then I met Felix Okugbe of blessed memory, one guy who had a great impact on my career as a sports presenter, sports producer, and sports reporter. He called me and said come to my studio in Agbado Ijaye.

I went there, he liked me, and put me on Mundial Sport. Took me to the African Nations Cup in 2006, my first African Nations Cup. I came back and I started to create my own shows. That was how it all started.

That means it was sports journalism from the get-go

Yes, it was clear. That’s why I went to Unilag to do my Diploma, but I left, because I didn’t want to stay in the university. I felt like even if I study in the university, I would come back to do what I’m already doing.

A lot of people who are studying now will come and meet me here. So why don’t I stay here and learn on the job and grow by training myself, by continuously attending seminars, training while other people who are in the university, when they come, I become their role model.

So you didn’t go to the university, eventually?

I didn’t finish. It’s a secret that I have learnt not to tell people because Nigerians sometimes are not smart. They focus on the degree and leave the knowledge and the depth of the person. I like them to think that (I went to school) because obviously, you won’t see me and think that I didn’t go to the university.

A lot of people even ask me where I did my first degree, meaning that I had a Master’s degree. I believe education is a daily thing, and not about going to university. I have immersed myself in books and that is the building block of my life.

You didn’t complete a university degree, but you are today a university graduate.  Can you lead us into that journey?

After my inroad into sports media in Nigeria, as God will have it, I became recognised. I became popular, because obviously like you said, because of my “controversial” views on radio, my style and ability to touch some topics that people will not naturally want to touch.

My ability to stand on my ground. My ability to be able to add a bit of wittiness to the way I do my reporting analysis and presentation. So there was something extra, there was something special about my approach generally, which a lot of people liked. 

I got to a point where I felt that enough is enough, I want to go to the next level. We have almost conquered this territory, let’s take the game to the next level. I started telling my friends, those close to me, that we have to do bigger things, that we cannot continue going on radio every day and doing the same thing.

Even all these clubs, all these stadiums, all these matches, we are talking about, we don’t have any first-hand experience about how things are done over there. We are only reading from the internet and most of the time, we are reading rumours and analysing rumours that we know. 

I said we need to take things to the next level and take them to the place where action is being done. I told them I want to sit in a room with Jose Mourinho, I want to sit in the same room with Pep Guardiola, I want to sit in the same room with Guillem Balague,  all of the big international journalists that we see on TV and we like the way they analyse.

I said to myself, the only way to do that is to give up on who I am now. To go up, you have to give up. I started to look for how to get to Europe and basically live in Europe where I would now be able to take the game to the international level. My brother lives in Germany. I started to tell him that I need to move to Europe, I’ve had enough of this level. I need to go to the next level so that I will now be a trailblazer as far as the international level is concerned. 

At the level where I operate, there are so many people already coming to be competitors. Now let’s go to a level where they can just sit down and watch us there. My brother helped me with all the papers, luckily I went to the German Embassy, I got my Visa.

I visited Europe for the first time in 2012. I contacted Schalke 04 that I wanted to interview Chinedu Obasi, luckily they responded. Obasi allowed me to come.

He was the first Nigerian player I would interview internationally. It was such an amazing experience, walking into the Schalke 04 arena, meeting with the Super Eagles player, and having to interview him. Now seeing it first hand, what it looks like to be inside an international football arena. And then, I covered the Champions League also in 2012.

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First Champions League, I think it was Schalke 04 against Chelsea FC. In 2012, it was an amazing experience for me. I was watching Didier Drogba live. I was like wow, there’s a huge difference between talking about it and being physically present in where the action is. That’s why they say seeing is believing. 

That was how it all started and from one interview to another, from one Champions League to another before we knew it, Oma Akatugba became confirmed as Nigeria’s International Football Journalist. The one you can run to for football international breaking news and exclusive interviews. It was a tough journey but I gave up something to reach where I am. That’s why they say don’t be scared to leave your comfort zone. If you want to get to the next level, you must be able to leave your comfort zone. 

You’ve interviewed Pep; you were talked about all over the world when Ancelotti was sacked; Osimhen is your guy, Maduka is your project. What is your proudest moment so far?

I think my proudest moment hasn’t come. If you go off my career, I would say my proudest moment is having my two beautiful children, because that is something that money cannot buy.

Nigerian International sports journalist, Oma Akatugba and wife welcome  baby boy

If you say in my career, my proudest moment is difficult to say. My proudest moment will maybe be when I achieve one of the projects I want to do and that will be that I want to create a sports news platform. More like an app that can be downloaded globally. I want to have millions of people consuming my content through my own platform. If I can reach that level, I will say it will be my proudest moment. 

Right now, I’ve got a lot of proud moments. For example, the day I got talked about all over the world after a whole Ancelotti was sacked.

That was a great moment, because I was in a restaurant in Paris with a friend and then I saw my name all over the internet. The guy that was with me told me everybody is talking about you. I said why? He said Carlo Ancelotti has been fired. I felt very good, I felt how celebrities felt when they do something special. That was a good moment. 

Also, my question to Pep Guardiola that became viral was one of my proud moments. Also, the one I did with Anthony Joshua, that was also a proud one because even Nigeria’s Vice President referred to it. Pastor Adeboye referred to it. Everybody talked about how I asked about pounded yam and egusi Soup. I can say that there are a lot of proud moments, but to say my proudest moment would be difficult.

Oma Akatugba (R) and Anthony Joshua (L). Image Credit: Facebook

Also, when I covered the African Nations Cup for the first time, it was an amazing moment for me. A young guy travelling out of Nigeria for the first time, covering the African Nations Cup, seeing players like Didier, Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, El-Hadji Diouf, Jay Jay Okocha, all those guys for the first time, having to be in the same room with them. I played with JJ Okocha in the Super Eagles hotel. It was a dream come true because I used to idolise all these guys as a young person.  Now, I’m able to report them, and I’m able to interview them. 

I think that was my first proudest moment because that was the first big experience I had as a football journalist. Covering Champions League games is also a great feeling because that is the dream of every young sports journalist and from Nigeria, I am the first.

I’m still one of the only few. The other person who does it came through me. It’s a guy who I also gave the opportunity to be able to see what the Champions League games look like.

I gave him the chance to see what Champions League games look like.

I am still the only guy and more or less the number one and the only guy who covers Champions League games as a Nigerian. That’s something to be proud of.

They say most journalists are broke, but you’re living the life. What did you do differently?

What you said is very true. It’s a very thankless profession, journalism in Nigeria, especially sports journalism. Nigerian Media is still yet to see sports Journalism as an important part of journalism. It’s an afterthought. The ecosystem still hasn’t given a premium to sports journalism.

That is why in every media organisation, the sports department is one of the most poorly funded departments. The head of sports is not as well paid as the head of politics or the head of news or the head of entertainment because they don’t see it as worthy enough to invest a lot of money in it.

That also is why a lot of sports journalists are broke. Only those that were able to create a business out of it were able to escape poverty and they’re not many. Normally, it should not be like that. In the western world, as a sports journalist, you might not be as rich as a doctor or as the CEO, but you are okay. You can live off being a sports journalist unlike in Nigeria where you cannot even get by.

It is very difficult. And that has made a few of us become entrepreneurs while being sports journalists. Otherwise, life would have been difficult for us. 

For me, I became an entrepreneur early enough. In 2006 when I went to the Africans Nations Cup, under the auspices of Mundial Sports International. When I returned to Nigeria, I created my own sports media company, called Sports Brand Limited and I created a tv show, I partnered with TV Continental and I started to make money.

As early as the age of 22, I started making money because I already saw the challenges that come with being a sports journalist and being employed by a media organisation.

I was earning 15,000 naira at Mundial Sports International and I was living in Ikorodu, Mundial Sport was in Sango Ota, from one end to another. So, I wasn’t doing it for the money, but I knew you would not be able to survive economically if you stay employed by a media organisation or an individual like Felix Okugbe.

I felt like the only way out was to create my own company, because I saw people like Larry Izamoje and that was the same step that Larry took that broke the yoke of poverty for him. He created his own TV show back in the day and he got sponsorship from Bournvita and Larry became a role model for a lot of people.

I’m one of the first young guys who started his own business early enough because not so many people had that courage. A lot of other guys saw me as an inspiration and they followed suit. I had my sister who was very grounded in media marketing and then we partnered to create the business. I was creating the shows, she was marketing. And social media came, luckily for me and a couple of the other guys, I built a large following through the internet early enough.

Nigerian Players focus by Oma Akatugba
Oma Akatugba. Image Credit: Sound Cloud

I took advantage of the digital era and then social media influencing started to earn me a lot of money as well. I moved to Europe, things got better, my brand got bigger and I started to make money on social media, doing consultancy and creating sporting events, sports marketing, and management. That is basically how I broke even. 

Looking back now, what are the things you wished you had done differently?

The things I wished I did differently are a secret. It’s relationship management. I was very stubborn. I’m still like that. It’s just that when you grow up, you manage your stubbornness better.

I was very stubborn. I didn’t manage relationships very well. I would have made more money actually because the Nigerian media space is built on relationships. It’s not even about what you know, it’s not even about what quality of content that you create. I used to have very good content. 

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Of course, I made money, but I would have made more money if I managed relationships well. I was naive, I was a young boy. A young guy who saw money early. It got into my head.

I started to think that I can do whatever I like. So I didn’t manage relationships well and I didn’t care what happened afterward which is also something I should have done better.

My dad told me not to worry that when you make money as a young person you use it to buy akara (beans cake). I think what I would have done better is relationship management. I think that is basically it. 

I also think something I wish I had done better was also taking opportunities by the scruff of the neck. I didn’t do that. I took a lot of things for granted.

Before sports betting came into Nigeria, I and Biola Kazeem had the idea. We visited a group of guys. We wanted to create the first sports betting company, we just didn’t take it seriously and boom!

Look at what sports betting has become. There are people I know personally who are pioneers in sports betting in Nigeria. Sometimes when I look back at them, I say wow! Look at what we took for granted.

What sacrifices have you made so far to get to where you are?

One of them is not going to the university, but not going to the university doesn’t mean I was wasting my time. I didn’t go to the university, so I could use the time to build a name as a young sports journalist and it paid off. That time that I would have spent in the university, maybe studying Yoruba, I used it to be on the field, to travel from place to place, to meet people, to learn, to study, to attend courses, to go to studio, to develop my craft and to build a brand. That is one of the sacrifices. I used it well. 

Another one of course is to leave Nigeria where I was a bigger boy. In Europe, nobody took pictures with me but in Nigeria, people took pictures with me. I can easily wake up in Nigeria, wear my suit and walk into any TV station or media based company and get the media contract.

I left all that to be able to put myself in the position where I am today. When people look at me and say Oma is that one guy that you can call upon as long as it concerns anything international which to me is a niche.

You are in a space where nobody is even dragging with you. The only person who is even trying to drag with you, you are his role model, whether he says it or not. I also did that to get to this level.

Those are some of the sacrifices I think I made and of course all of those days that you worked for peanuts. Working at Mundial Sports for 15,000 naira was a huge sacrifice because it was more or less doing it for passion. A lot of free shows. Top Radio was not paid for, a lot of people don’t know.

All we did on Top Radio, we didn’t earn a dime but Top Radio played its part. It helped us to become more popular. A lot of people got to know me through that show. It was a give and take. That is also a sacrifice. When you calculate all the expenses that it took me to get to Top Radio on a daily basis, it’s a sacrifice and that is what you have to make to succeed in life.

Apart from money, what other reasons made you start a media company?

I am a rebel, a positive one. I don’t like too many institutions, I don’t like too many authorities. I am a guy that when I work in an organisation, I will always have problems, because sometimes I don’t do it how they do it. I don’t believe in this is how to do it. I believe in trying different things.

So because of that, I felt I would have problems (working in an organisation). Also, I’m not a politician, I don’t know how to play politics. I am too open, I am too honest. In any organisation there is politics, especially in Nigeran media organisations, you have to develop that skill of playing the game of politics.

You have to develop the ability to do eye service and I don’t like those things. That was also why I came to Europe because in Nigeria, to survive, you have to do eye service. At every level, you have to do it and I’m not the kind of person who likes to do things like that.

I decided to go to Europe where at worst, I will not be hungry, broke. I’m in Germany. If I cannot practise sports journalism or do sports business, I will go and get a regular job and I will earn. In Germany, there are jobs everywhere. It might not be your white collar job, but who cares.

The most important thing is that I put food on the table. So I came to this place so I can sit here and say the truth without fear. Because of my personality, I decided to create my own business called Oma Sports, where I’m not answerable to anyone.

That is also one of the main motivations, because during one of the books I read, something about knowing your value. Your value will determine your profession.

If you are somebody that values your time, freedom, you should be an entrepreneur and that was something I completely agreed with when I was reading that book. If you are a person who likes to be independent, who likes to be creative, who likes to take bold steps, and who values his time and freedom, you will not be able to work. You will work and earn but you will not be happy.  I created my company because I wanted to be my own boss.

You have covered the Nigerian league and international leagues, What do you think are the biggest challenges to Nigerian Football League?

The biggest challenge, first and foremost, is an economic challenge. If you look at leagues all over the world, you will see the quality of the league is side by side with the level of the country’s development. The Nigerian League is a reflection of Nigeria as a nation. 

However, we also have the problem of leadership, because everything rallies and falls on leadership. The Nigerian League is poor because nigerian clubs are poorly managed, they are not run by professionals. They are run by state governors who don’t see football as important as it should be.

They see football as a political tool, not as a business. If they saw football as a business, they would put in quality people to run the football clubs because it’s all about vision and management. That is the biggest challenge of the Nigerian League. 

Oma Akatugba and Maurizio Sarri

The league can however be developed even though Nigeria is yet to be developed. Look at the nigerian music industry, It is doing very well. It is not where it should be, but there are individuals who have a vision, who have the mind to succeed and in that same Nigeria.

That is why I believe football can if we have the right people managing the clubs. If you have the NPFL doing well, I mean not doing excellently well, but doing okay and the clubs not doing well, it’s going to render their efforts useless.

First challenge is economic, the second challenge is management. I think those are the two challenges because everything rises and falls on the leadership.

How can we revive the league?

What we can do about it is simple. Take the club off the hands of people who are not professionals at every level across Nigeria. I’m not saying you should take the government off football. A lot of people always say this but it’s not easy. In a country like Nigeria, you still need government backing, government money as private individuals, currently, don’t believe in investing in Nigerian football.

The few of them who have done so got their fingers burnt. There are a few of them still doing it but it is very rough. I’m going to also say that, like I said, Leadership. Look at a club like Vandressa, I don’t know if you have heard of a club called Vandressa. It is a privately sponsored football club.

They play in the NNL. It is well operated. It is professionally managed. The owner is a billionaire who is based in the UK and he has put in place, professionals to run the club. The club is like a European club. When they are playing matches, they have like thirteen cameras covering their games. They stream their live matches, they have their app, they are on Google Play Store and Apple Store. They have jerseys. They try to organise the club. 

That same blueprint can be used by other clubs in Nigeria. In every state, the clubs have supporters. The clubs can earn money by making their supporters part of the club. By asking  supporters to buy shares in the club. If for example in Ibadan, you have one million people who support the team, ask each of these one million people to drop 1000 or 2000 naira. The club will be able to generate money to pay players.

That is the part of Nigerian football that is not well taken care of, welfare of players. To pay players, to build an academy, to build a clubhouse, to be able to manage the club properly, pay salaries of players and administrators, and then to be able to have a club that is accountable.

If you’re able to do that, you’ll start to see your club become professional. The guys who are back-boners of the club will want to continue to invest in the club because they can see results. They can see progress and before you know it, people can start buying shares. Nigerian football matches are now on TV.

That in itself is big progress. The clubs at different levels can now upgrade and become better and meet the level where the NPFL have put it. Now, they can also set up a youth system.

No Nigerian club has an academy and that itself is a travesty. They can now set up academies, where they can develop players from scratch, sell these players to Europe, earn money and pump money back into the club.

There is a whole lot that they can do to become more organised, more professional and earn more money and in that case, the subsidy they get from the government will now be like an addendum but not the main revenue. So for them now, if the government doesn’t give them money, they can’t survive.

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Even with government money they can’t survive because even the government is broke so football to them is not important. So the guys running the clubs in Nigeria must up their game. Again like I said, everything rises and falls on leadership. At every level in Nigerian club, if you can put the right people to run the club, the case will change.

Neymar said African countries have not won the world cup because they don’t play with passion. Do you agree with him?

In fact, I will just deal with the passion question he said. I will come to the reason why we have not won the world cup. Yesterday, I was watching Messi being celebrated by teammates in Argentina and something struck me. I almost said that I like the fact that these South American players and European players generally are so passionate about playing for their country.

You’ll see it all on their faces. You’ll know. I see how Messi is excited when he is playing for Argentina. Sometimes, I’m like why is this one excited? What’s so special about this? You don’t win anything and you’re so excited. That is the kind of passion they exhibit when they play for their country, which is something you don’t really see from African players and I agree with Neymar on that. 

When African players play for their clubs, they are at a different wavelength but not for their African countries.

Sometimes I wonder, why are Nigerian players not doing well for their country like they do for their club. Look at Kelechi Iheanacho, Seniorman Kelz, scoring for Leicester but the last three games he played for Nigeria, with all due respect I didn’t really see anything. 

Again, it might not be that he doesn’t want to deliver. It might also be the team setting, the quality of players here. At club level, you’re playing with some of the best players in the world, but when you come to play in the Super Eagles, you’re playing with a player playing in Cyprus or a player playing in Slovakia. So what do you expect? That connection is not there. Having said that, I agree with Neymar. To a very large extent, I agree with him. 

The reason Africa hasn’t won the world cup is not because of passion. Let’s be honest. The thing that we even have more is that passion, but passion alone is not enough. To win the world cup, you need expertise. You need years of proper planning. You need a strategy. 

Germany won the world cup in 2014. It took them ten years. They invested millions of dollars into grassroot football development. They went back to the drawing board after they lost the world cup in 2002, in Korea, Japan. They invested ten million dollars annually developing talent and that morphed into a winning team in 2014.

There is always a blueprint. We don’t have a blueprint here. We don’t have a strategy. We don’t even know how we want to play. We don’t play players as at when due.

You saw how African players embarrassed themselves at the world cup in Brazil. Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon have unpaid bonuses.

All these are factors that mitigate against our progress at the world cup level. Again, our players must play at the big stage, because to win the world cup, you need quality players. These are things working against us winning the world cup. 

It’s not just passion, passion is not enough. That’s why you see they say African players have energy, they have passion, but sometimes they lack tactical and technical understanding of football. All these things are important. 

Coaching education is also important. We have to educate our coaches so that they can impact the right knowledge on our footballers in Nigeria. So, it’s a whole lot.

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