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World Cup news

Okocha: Africa must start again

June 24, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Former Nigeria international Jay-Jay Okocha said African football needs to "go back to the drawing board" if it is to improve.

Former Nigeria star Jay-Jay Okocha
GettyImagesFormer Nigeria star Jay-Jay Okocha

"It's about character," he told the BBC. "Our players have not shown enough passion. It's an African tournament [and] we thought we could capitalise on that. That hasn't been the story.

"I think the players have failed to understand that they need to go that extra mile to be able to get results. They are not looking for the solution on how to win games. We [need to] go back to our drawing boards and invest in youth and start planning."

Okocha laid the blame for the continent's relative failure on a lack of planning. "We always wait for an event and then get ourselves ready for just that event."

He added that coaches and players needed to go overseas to gain experience: "I thought that the officials should be given the opportunity as well to go abroad and update themselves, but we haven't done that. We've not invested in our local coaches.

"After going to Europe to prove yourself as a player you come back to that old mentality, that old way of playing. Then sometimes players get caught in the middle. They try to bring you down to their own level ... and if you don't want to come down to that level, it's as if you're losing your culture, losing your respect."

Okocha, who played for Bolton, Hull and PSG in Europe, said the big-name stars had failed to deliver. "They haven't really performed. They've underachieved. It's all about character. I don't think our players have shown enough passion for the game. That's the difference between the way they've played here, and the way they play in their various clubs."