NPFL legend Victor Ezeji has lashed out at the organisers of the multiple pre-season tournaments around the country ahead of the upcoming 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League season.
No fewer than seven preseason competitions are expected in the coming days, including the Governor Nyeson Wike Preseason tournament, the Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu Cup and the Taiwo Ogunjobi Gold Cup in Ilorin.
The former Enyimba, Heartland and Sunshine Stars striker, who works as Players’ Relationship Advisor with the League Management Company (LMC), noted that the spate and rigorous nature of the preseason tourneys could be detrimental to the physical wellbeing of the players.
“We are seeing that the clubs are now stretching the players with all these preseason, preseason (matches),” the 39-year-old ex-Super Eagles forward said. “And if you look at the list of all the clubs playing in these preseason (tournaments), they are almost the same clubs.
“We have Governor Wike’s own, we have Governor Masari, we have Govenor Okezie Ikpeazu, we have the Oghunjobi Gold Cup, we have one in Ughelli, we also have Ahlan Cup in Kano. All these for how many weeks? These players are not robots for God’s sake.”
Ezeji, who played 20 seasons in the NPFL and rounded-off his career as the most decorated Nigerian player on the domestic scene, noted that preseasons are not only about playing football matches, adding that clubs should engage in other activities that will benefit their players and officials.
“It’s only in Nigeria that we find out that preseason is just a time for you to play matches and matches and matches,” he stressed. “That’s not what preseason is all about.
“Preseason is a time for you to prepare your team mentally and physically.
“It is time for you to bring in referees to come speak to your clubs if there are new rules or refresh their memory about the old rules, so that the players will be in tune, not when a referee blows something they will start arguing on the field of play, not knowing the rules.
“This is the time where you need to bring psychologists to put the players in the right frame of mind.
“This is the time for you to bring NPFL legends to come tell them about their experiences in the league – what they will most likely encounter, in case there new ones coming into the league or there are new ones coming into your region to come play for the first time.
“But most of our clubs are not doing these. All they are interested in is football match, football match.”
Ezeji also called on the organisers of these tournaments to close ranks and come up with something spectacular.