By Amaechi Agbo
Former Flying Eagles coach, Samuel Abimbola has stated that the delay in the kick-off of 2019/2020 Nigeria professional Football League, NPFL is impacting negatively on the performances of clubs representing the country at CAF competitions.
Coach Abimbola who spoke on the backdrop of the home Eagles who crashed out of the 2020 Africa Nations Championship, CHAN qualifier against Togo despite winning 2-0 in Lagos last week said the performance of the home-based Eagles as well as clubs representing the country in CAF competitions is shows what impact the league could have had on the players if the new season was up and running.
Coach Abimbola who was assistant coach to the Flying Eagles said that the reason the organisers gave for opting to play an abridged system in the 2018/19 season obviously to align the league with CAF calendar has been defeated.
He added that with if the league had been on, clubs such as Kano Pillars, Niger Tornadoes and Enyimba would not have crashed out of CAF competitions at the preliminary stages.
“I am not comfortable that the new league is yet to kick-off. I thought that the need to start the league early enough this season was the reason they played abridged system last season. If the league was going to take longer time to start, they should not have played abridged league last season. That aim has been defeated.
“Be it as it may, I believe maybe the organisers and the people in charge of the league are working on getting the league started. What I read that it was because of the legal battle against some of the NFF officials was the reason for the delay, I believe that should not affect the league.
“It should not be a problem. But let’s give them the chance to keep their house in order and get the league started because year in year out, late commencement of the league has affected our performance in continental campaigns.
“Look at what happened to the four teams that participated in the CAF competitions. It is not that these clubs do not have good players. But the commencement of the league could have helped them better to stabilise before going to the continental battles. No matter how many training trainings you have, you cannot compare match fitness with training fitness and this thing really impacted on our teams.
“I bet you that if we are really week 5 or 7 before they went to the continental, they would have roasted the teams home and away. So, for the benefit of football in the country, I want to plead with the league organisers that they should just find a way to start the league. They should work out ways to see that this league can commence so that our league calendar can tally with other countries.
“We all saw how the boys performed against Togo in both legs and even in WAFU. Those boys are capable of defeating any team at their level if the league was up and running. No matter how much training sessions or friendlies they played, you cannot compared the intensity to that of a very important match. But it is not yet late for them. This is the time for us to go back and review our system, find out where we are getting it wrong and fix things properly,” he said.