…Says Psychologist’ll win home games for Eagles
Former national team striker, Peter Ijeh, has seen it all as a local player, before embarking on greener pastures to Sweden, where he made great impact before calling it quits with active football.
Ijeh started his professional career with NITEL Football Club of Lagos and won the highest goals scorer award with Julius Berger Football Club, also of Lagos. He later went to Sweden and won the highest goals scorer award in the Swedish premier league with 24 goals in 23 games and till date, the record, which he set in 2002, has remained unbroken in the Swedish league.
While in Sweden, he played for Malmo FF, IFK Goteborg, Syrianska FC and Gais FC. In Denmark, he played for Copenhagen FC and also for Viking FK of Norway. He played a total of 248 games and scored 119 times. Ijeh also added a B.Sc degree to his catalogue of achievements and a certified UEFA Grade A coaching certificate.
As the only Nigerian coach in the Scandinavian country currently making waves, the former Eagles’ striker shared with The Point, in an exclusive interview from Sweden, his dream about Nigerian football; his plans and aspirations and what the national team needed to do to bounce back from its slumber. Ijeh said Nigerian football needs structural adjustment.
According to him, there is no proper foundation for football development in the country, stressing that the authorities just believe in mere wishful thinking. “Although, Nigeria is blessed with gifted players, they are not properly managed. We need to start competing, because the rest of the world is awake and focused.
The Swedish league is a force to reckon with among the Scandinavian nations, and there are limited Nigerian players here. I believe with time and good grassroots structural programmes, Nigeria may produce top players to compete in the Swedish premier league proper,” he said. Ijeh is a grassroots coach in Sweden and he is aspiring to return home to coach any of the nation’s national teams.
He said he would be delighted, if Nigerian football authorities would give him the opportunity to coach the Under-17 national team.
“Apart from playing football to the highest level, I am a graduate. I went back to school, because I am looking forward to handle the national team in any of the categories, and with my professional experience and educational background, I believe I have got what it takes to deliver the next generation of players and see them through, discovering and rediscovering hidden potentials,” he said. Ijeh said he was ready to inject fresh blood into the Nigerian football and make the nation’s football rise again.
“Part of my plans as a coach is to create a modern soccer atmosphere, where soccer terminologies will be expressed and well understood. And my aspiration is my objectives, and desire to go past the bar of limitation, tapping from my experience as a professional player in Nigerian league, also as a professional player in European league, creating a common ground and mixed knowledge as a coach,” he said.
On the present Super Eagles under German coach, Gernot Rohr, he said he was impressed with the results of matches played so far, and he is optimistic that the team would go places.
And my aspiration is my objectives, and desire to go past the bar of limitation, tapping from my experience as a professional player in Nigerian league, also as a professional player in European league, creating a common ground and mixed knowledge as a coach
“The new Super Eagles are quite impressive from the beginning. The team will also need a psychologist to help get the players past the pressure of playing games at home.
If Rohr could find the balance of the home and away games strategy, to sustain it will be easy, because Nigeria still has the raw talents, but we need to do more on the players by shaping them up and make them ready-made materials for proper development,” he said.
Rohr recently announced his team for the November 12 World Cup qualifier against Algeria in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and Ijeh was not excited that former number one goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, was not in the list of invited players.
Instead, Rohr called up Carl Ikeme of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, England; Ikechukwu Ezenwa of FC IfeanyiUbah and Dele Alampasu, FC Cesarense, Portugal. In the defence, where he is facing some fresh challenges after the Zambia away victory, he, however, called Leon Balogun of FSV Mainz 05, Germany; William Paul Ekong from Haugesund FC, Norway; Kenneth Omeruo, Alanyaspor FC of Turkey defender; Uche Henry Agbo from Granada FC, Spain; Tyrone Ebuehi, ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands; Abdullahi Shehu, Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus; Musa Muhammed, Istanbul Basaksehir, Turkey; Elderson Echiejile, Standard Liege, Belgium; and Kingsley Madu, SV Zulte Waregem, Belgium.
The tactician beefed up his team with in-form Israeli-based midfielder, John Ogu and Nigeria’s top scorer at the Olympic Men’s Football Tournament in Brazil, Oghenekaro Etebo.
He also returned English Premiership stars, Victor Moses and Odion Ighalo for the Uyo cracker. Football observers are more concerned about these two departments in the team, and they want Rohr to do something before the match against Algeria.
“For those of us who are stakeholders in this game, we know the strength and weaknesses of our team. We know that only the best players could make a difference when the chips are down, and we believe that it is not yet over for Enyeama.
He is still relevant as far as goalkeeping is concerned in Eagles, unless he is no longer interested,” Ijeh said. On Nigeria’s chances of picking the sole World Cup ticket in her group, he said: “Eagles have the chance to qualify, even if there are stronger contenders than Zambia, Cameroon, and Algeria.
If we can put our acts together, and not underrating any team, because no team is a push over in world football, then we can be sure of picking the ticket,” he said.
On the level and availability of players in the national team, Ijeh said: “Currently, I believe Nigeria still has players with abundant skills, technique, and speed, but we can still work more on our playing style.
As we can see that the Eagles are a bunch of young squad, so the team needs support to get there.” Ijeh said he was inspired by some old Nigerian players, who had made their marks at both local and international football, adding that he hopes that their labours will never be in vain.
He however described coaching job as a big task, but stressed that he is enjoying everything. “The job is challenging, but exciting when you know what, how and when to apply the difference between challenges and success, because without challenges, there won’t be success,” he said.