By Sab Osuji
Anthony Atuegwu, a former Nigeria player now based in Finland, has posited that Super Eagles will have no much stress navigating their way past hosts, Ivory Coast, in their group stage in the 2023 AFCON which gets underway in Abidjan next weekend if they select the right players, Completesports.com reports.
Atuegwu, sole financier of A&A Kiviasennus Football Club, Lagos, reckons that Nigeria is blessed with abundant talents but regretted that untoward attitude by officials and coaches have had devastating effect on the country’s performances on the international stage.
“If they select the team on merit, yes, Eagles will qualify. But if they still do things their negative way, where merit is thrown overboard, then, the team will bid the tournament a sad bye even at the group stage”, Atuegwu said at a meet in Nnewi, his native home town.
“Over the years, appointment of coaches and invitation of players to national camp as well as match day team selection haven’t followed the lane of merit.
“And everyone knows that this country is blessed with amazing potentials. Out there in Europe, once you’re found to be a player from Nigeria, you’re accorded a kingly status. That was when players were selected on the strenght of their qualities and potential.
“This is no longer the case now. You see a player missing out on the selection process because he refused or unable to grease someone’s palms. Under the circumstances, how can we get the best and compete well?”, he quarried, furiously.
He added: “I played football in Burkina Faso, Switzerland and Germany before ending up in Finland. So I know what I’m talking about.
“I’ve talked about this several times over and unless we eschew bias in our selection process, success will continue to be far from us on the big stage, including the 2023 AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire”.
The of A&A Kiviasennus Football Club, Lagos financier, hinted that he would stop at nothing in his determination and commitment to restore the football glory of Nnewi.
The Finland based Football freak insisted that he’s taken practical and pragmatic steps towards achieving this dream, founding a club, ‘Mini Post Club’, at his Uruagu home town, Nnewi.
He’s worried that Nnewi, which produced the likes of (late) Coach Christopher Udemezue, who is on record as being the first coach to qualify Nigeria for the FIFA U20 World Cup in Mexico ’83 and won their opening group match, appears to have taken a ‘saddening back seat’.
“Yes, Nnewi used to be known as producing great footballers as you rightly pointed out. That’s what I’ve come to restore, the Pride and glory of Nnewi football”, starts the fair-skinned former left-footed dazzler.
“It’s not about the players career. It has to do with their lives. I love touching people’s lives, especially the youth.
“That’s the area I sow my own seed by touching people’s lives. I believe that the more I help, the more God blesses me”.
Atuegwu would go on to reveal that so far, a number of players from the industrial hub of West Africa have benefitted from his gesture and are now playing football outside of the country with many more on the verge of departure to foreign leagues.
“At the moment, we’ve Nnamdi playing in Egypt. One is in Russia and the other in Hungary.
“There are three others whose travel documents are ready and would travel out, say by Monday. I’m always happy touching the lives of these youth, my people”, he said.
Atuegwu disclosed that his inspiration and motivation stemmed from the fact that he was once a footballer.
“My football career started when I was in primary school at Zik’s Avenue Primary School, Fegge, Onitsha.
“I’m a natural left footer during my active days.I went on to play in Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Germany and ended up in Finland. So, that’s when and where the passion started”.
The A&A Kiviasennus boss paid tribute to his senior brother and uncle who helped him move abroad after a brief business life at home, Nnewi.
He sees himself as a ‘prophet recognised by his people’ and disclosed that he is always at home with his people.
“I’m a home boy, always at home every year and comfortable with my people. I love it so much”.
On 5 January 2024, the interlocking expert unveiled his multi-million naira country home in his Uruagu Nnewi village, Anambra State.
He also revealed plans to construct a mini astro turf pitch in Nnewi.
He went on to add that he will nurture his Nnewi based club, Mini Post Club, Uruagu Nnewi to top level.