The task was daunting, the Coaches never had full control of the team and players selection was dictated by figures in the Nigeria FA, who kept introducing new foreign-based players to the squad despite the short window of preparation they had.
“It was a difficult situation to put under control, only us the Coaches knew where the shoe pinched,” Ilechukwu recounts.
“We had been working with some home-based players until very late in our preparation when some foreign-based players were invited to join us.
” It sad but some of them didn’t even respect us as Nigerian coaches. We couldn’t even get information from their club Managers about their performances after they were introduced.”
Ilechukwu and Kennedy Boboye among the three U23 national team Coaches have since returned to their respective club sides, Heartland FC and Akwa United FC, where the bigger battle is brewing.
With the 2019-20 NPFL still suspended due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the two-year transfer ban slapped on Heartland by FIFA over breaches in players contracts and wages, Ilechukwu admits the crisis could become very significant.
Heartland are currently 14th in the table and could be facing a potential relegation battle when the season resumes.
Cataloging the challenges, Ilechukwu, who himself and the current are owed four months wages by the club expects the Management to act expediently rather than allow the current situation degenerate and they start tagging us “Crisis FC”.
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