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INTERVIEW: My bad outing at 1999 U-20 world cup cost me Super Eagles opportunity, says Dombraye

INTERVIEW: My bad outing at 1999 U-20 world cup cost me Super Eagles opportunity, says Dombraye
February 18
16:56 2020
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Eddy Lord Dombraye, former Nigerian football player, says his bad outing at the 1999 FIFA U-20 World Cup, on home soil, deprived him of more playing time with the Super Eagles.

Dombraye, who has one cap for the Super Eagles and also featured four times with the Flying Eagles at the youth international championship before they were knocked out of the tournament, disclosed this while speaking with TheCable.

He admitted that he had a bad outing throughout the tournament. He also revealed that, the fact that he was mistaken for a striker, instead as a midfielder, was an additional factor that worked against him getting called up for the senior team.

The 40-year-old, who was a household name in the country’s league with Premier breweries, Iwuanyanwu nationale and Bendel Insurance, was one of the top scorers in the 1990s, before he joined Polish side LKS Lodz for four seasons.

A double winner of both the WAFU Club Cup and now rested CAF Cup with Bendel Insurance in 1993 and 1994 respectively, Dombraye said that Nigerian players are not mentally ready before moving abroad to ply their trade in Europe.

Victor Ezeji, Duke Udi are veterans in the Nigerian League then before you left for Poland, how will you compare what it is obtainable now?

I think most players now are not ready mentally before going out to Europe. Because like Duke Udi and Victor Ezeji, they spent a lot of seasons in the Nigerian League. They were already experienced before leaving for Europe, which is the opposite these days. Everybody just want to leave for Europe now. Even at the age of 16, 17.

You had a one time stint with the Super Eagles coming on as a substitute in the 1998 AFCON qualifier, what happened that you never had the opportunity to feature more for the senior team?

I believed I did not feature more for the Super Eagles because I had a bad tournament in the junior world championship in 1999. And you know people confused me for being a striker whereas, I am midfielder. So, that time in 1998, 1999, the Super Eagles was filled with top top strikers. Everybody was doing well. So, I will say it is because I had a bad tournament at the junior world cup that deprived me the opportunity of playing more for the senior national team.

As a former youth international for Nigeria, why is it now difficult to produce quality players like the country used to do before?

I don’t think we got it wrong. The only thing we should do is to introduce those tournaments that used to be those days. Like the school sports. We should find a way to limit young players (usually at the age of 15, 16, 17) from rushing off to Europe. They should be able to develop a little bit at home before going to Europe. Play a season or two in the Nigerian League before going to Europe, will be better for age grade tournaments.

What’s your opinion about young players who were plying their trade in the NPFL but abandoned it to move abroad? 

Honestly, I can’t fault these players because when contracts are not respected, that’s what happens. And the financial situations in most clubs is really not good. So, when these players have the opportunity of going to Europe, I think they should take it. Or we should find a way to keep these players long enough in the league and that means respecting contracts.

Is Jay Jay Okocha possibly the most skilful footballer the world has ever produced?

Yeah! I totally agree and say Jay Jay Okocha. But a very close one with Ronaldinho.

For someone who once played in the Nigerian League, how can you compare it with European football?

I think the LMC needs to look for avenues to bring sponsors into the league. So, that they can generate money on their own. Because most of the European Leagues generate money on their own. So, without that, everything is about money now. The game is about money, it’s fun and entertainment and it generates money too. And the LMC is in position to do that. They should emulate these European clubs, league. They should be able to do that.

What are your thoughts on Gernot Rohr and the current Super Eagles squad?

I can’t really advise but my thoughts is that he has been doing a good job with the Super Eagles. I know that a lot of people will not agree with this but he has been in Nigeria for some times now and he knows the mentality, culture, and he has gotten a lot of youth into the Super Eagles. So, people say he is always building a team. Yes, sometimes it takes long to build a team. If you see the pool of players in the team now, they are very young. I saw them play here in Ukraine before the World Cup. And they played very well and when I spoke with him, he is such a gentle man. I think he is doing a good job and he should be given time. It’s all left to the NFF to decide.

You have been seeking to coach in the NPFL since you obtained your Uefa license. Why the league and not one of the national teams?

I have my UEFA license A, B and C. So, after that, I went to Arsenal Kviv to understudy Fabriso Rafoleni before he was fired then. I was moved to the youth team U17. It gave me time to put everything I learnt into practice. After that, I told myself that the best thing to do is bring that into the Nigerian Premier League. So, if I have the opportunity to coach any of the national youth teams, why not? I will gladly take it.

Why coaching?

Towards the end of my career, I started playing more deep to the level of playing as a central defender. And I am good at reading the game. So, for me, choosing to be a coach just came easy. Had lots of options to become an agent but I chose not to be. I felt being an agent is like a hobby. You have to have different jobs to be an agent. And I wanted to go into full time coach, so that I can go out in the morning and play during the weekend. It’s more fun for me.

What’s your take on Joseph Yobo’s appointment as Super Eagles assistant coach?

For me, the appointment of Joseph Yobo came as a shock. But coming to think of it, if you are letting Imama go, I think Yobo is just a perfect replacement because he has the experience as a player. He played under different coaches in the national team, club sides. He also played under different coaches in the English premier league, in Turkey, in the Europa League and he is a very gentle man. And he has charisma which is very important as a coach. But the most important thing that will make him succeed will be his relationship with Gernot Rohr. That is very very important. Having talked to Rohr when the Super Eagles came for the friendly game against the Ukraine national team, we just talked about football because I am learning and will keep learning.

I asked him a few questions about the job and he answered me gently and calmly too. And Yobo is like that. Very gentle. So, I think they will click and once they are able to do that, it will be very good for us. And what I am thinking, is that the NFF is grooming Joseph Yobo for the future. Which will be very very good.

What is the best moment of your career?

I don’t have lots of best moments because I played in low leagues in countries like Ukraine and Poland. But I will say the best moment of my career was when I was in the local league, when I was invited to the Flying Eagles, U23 and the Super Eagles in 1998. That was the highlight of it. If you say club wise, I will say Poland. If I had the chance I would have stayed with them forever because of the way they took me on from the first day. I still have a relationship with them till date and I was invited to their game when they gained promotion into the premier league. In generally, it was the 1998 season that was the best in my career.

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