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Okoku Urges NFF to Choose New Eagles Coach Carefully

Okoku

Former Nigeria midfielder Paul Okoku believes the next Super Eagles head coach should have a strong track record of nurturing young talent and promoting an aggressive attacking style of play.

In a phone interview, Okoku—who served as the U-20 assistant captain at the 1983 U-20 World Cup in Mexico—expressed this view amid differing opinions from Nigerian football stakeholders on the ideal coach for the three-time African champions.

“We need a coach who respects players and treats them with dignity, understanding that respect is mutual. The coach should be accountable to both himself and the nation and be open to recruiting talent from home-based players while fostering healthy competition between professional and domestic players,” he said.

Okoku also suggested considering an indigenous coach qualified for the role, someone like the late Stephen Keshi, who commanded respect from both local and internationally based elite players.

Keshi trusted in the ability of homegrown players to form a complete squad despite criticisms. “He would often remind me of Nigeria’s rich history of producing players like Segun Odegbami, Adokiye Amesiamaka, and Felix Owolabi, emphasizing that the team’s management shouldn’t overlook the search for talented local players,” Okoku noted.

He stressed the importance of choosing a coach based on merit rather than favoritism and ensuring the candidate has a proven pedigree and isn’t involved in acting as players’ agents.

“A new coach with a track record of developing young talent and an affinity for dynamic, attacking play would be a great asset for the Super Eagles,” Okoku said. He emphasized the value of a coach who can cultivate a positive team culture and effectively manage player relationships.

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