One of the iconic figures of Nigerian football is Jonathan Akpoborie. He was one of the lads that won the FIFA/JVC U-17 World Cup in China in 1985. In fact he scored one of the goals against the then Western Germany in the finals.

That set of the Golden Eaglets became the first team from Africa to win a FIFA organised tournament. Jonathan graduated to play for both the U20 and the senior national teams, the Flying and Super Eagles respectively.

Till date, he believes he was denied the opportunity to go to the World Cup due to ‘official conspiracy’ as according to him, “some people believed only their preferred choices should go.”

He played for the defunct Julius Berger FC of Lagos before traveling abroad, where he spent all his professional years in Germany. He has since returned home and is living a quiet private life as a businessman.

In an interview with Sports Vanguard the former Stuttgart forward expressed his disaffection with what has been going on in the Nigerian football scene. He said the administration of football in the country has to change in style and structure. He lamented the non-qualification of the Super Eagles to the World Cup in Qatar but remarked that he was not surprised.

“As an ex-international and as a Nigerian, in particular, our failure to qualify for Qatar 2022 has caused me a lot of pain. To imagine that the green-white-green flag of Nigeria won’t be hoisted in Qatar has a devastating effect on all of us,” he said.

However, the FIFA U16 World Cup winner said that even before the first ball was kicked in the double-header playoff tie between Nigeria and Ghana, anybody who was acquainted with the dynamics of football knew Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup were slim.

“In football, like any other sport, adequate preparation is key. And that is the bane of our football. Successive administrators in this country are guilty of this. Even during our active days, we had the same problem but we were able to cover up and produce results because of the abundant talents at our disposal then. Today, we don’t have such talents.

“Even when the talents are there, we lack developmental programmes to horn them. In those days when we were growing up, we had so many competitions like the YSFON, Principals Cup, Campos Square tournament, the Mock Nations Cup in Ajegunle, Ojo tournament and so on.

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