US Monastir forward Anthony Okpotu says lack of quality match balls and natural grass playing surfaces in the Nigeria Professional Football League are the major reasons why Nigerian clubs fail to deliver on the continent.
Nigerian clubs have found it difficult to make a significant impact in CAF Competitions since Enyimba last won the CAF Champions League in 2003 and 2004.
Heartland came close in 2009 reaching the Champions League final but eventually lost out to Congolese side TP Mazembe.
Okpotu who played for Lobi Stars between 2012 and 2013 before joining Libyan club Al-Ittihad Tripoli has revealed that inferior match balls and poor facilities in the NPFL usually put Nigeria clubs at a disadvantage against their opponents on the continent.
“Nigerians] always criticise [NPFL] teams that play on the continent, but teams only train for a week with CAF balls,”
“There are no quality match balls in the NPFL, the match balls are not good and that is one of the factors responsible for the poor performance on the continent.”
“Even the pitches too are a problem. We have mostly synthetic grass which is different from natural grass you mostly see in other countries and this makes it difficult to control the ball when you play on natural grass.”
“These things can make you lose a football match from the very first minute.”
The trend continued this season with Enyimba losing out to Horoya AC in the quarter final of the CAF second-tier club competition while Rangers couldn’t move past the group stages.
Kano Pillars and Niger Tornadoes also crashed out at the first hurdle from the Champions League and Confederation Cup respectively.
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