• Wed. Oct 4th, 2023

Fidelis Ilechukwu Highlights Challenges Facing NPFL Teams in CAF Competitions

Newly-appointed head coach of Enugu Rangers Fidelis Ilechukwu had revealed some reasons why Nigerian Premier Football League (NPFL) teams often struggle in continental matches.

The 45-year-old manager on a Sunday night interview anchored by UK-based Nigerian journalist, Abayomi Ademetan on the Lets Gist Naija platform attributed this recurring issue to the inability to retain the league’s top players, highlighting the impact of salary disparities between Nigeria and other countries.

“The truth is NPFL will struggle because we don’t keep our best players,” Ilechukwu emphasized.

He lamented the scarcity of examples where Nigerian teams have managed to retain their best talents and attract even stronger players to compete effectively in continental competitions. The coach acknowledged that Nigerian players often leave their domestic teams to join other clubs participating in continental football. These other teams often have better financial resources, which enable them to assemble more formidable squads.

“The players will move on because the amount we pay is not enough to keep our best players,” Ilechukwu stated.

Ilechukwu emphasized the salary structure as a crucial factor, noting the significant difference in earnings between Nigeria and other African countries. However, due to the disparity in salaries, Nigerian players opt to leave for countries such as Tanzania, Algeria, and Egypt, where they receive higher pay and benefit from more substantial investment in football and infrastructure.

The coach further highlighted instances where Nigerian players choose to play in Zambia after the NPFL season ends, attracted by better salary structures. With top clubs in Zambia offering salaries of up to two million naira, Nigerian players often make the move, resulting in additional challenges when facing those same clubs in continental matches.

“Because the salary structure is poor we see our best players leave for Tanzania, Algeria, and Egypt because they pay well and have spent so much on their football and football infrastructure.

“We see situations of when the season ends, our players leave for Zambia to play football because of the salary structure. Top clubs in Zambia pay up to two million naira and when we meet these clubs, we struggle in their hands.”

Camara as fondly called also shed light on the impact of poor time of preparation in Nigeria on continental performances. The coach explained that inadequate time for preparation affects logistics and transportation, which in turn affects the overall performance of NPFL teams in continental competitions.

“Time of preparation is also poor in Nigeria. This affects logistics and transportation and all of these affect continental performances” he added

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