By Kingsley Emmanuel
Sunshine Stars FC defender, Jonathan Zikiye has challenged clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League to make better use of their stadium facilities as it affects their play on the continent.
Zikiye in an interview suggests that one of the reasons why Nigerian clubs show timidity and are exposed on the continents might be as a result of this.
“The truth is that the structure in most of our teams is not okay and this also affects the psychology of the players when they travel for games on the continent.
“We have facilities that we do not use and I will cite what happens in North Africa as an example since I have been there on a few occasions.
“When you go to North Africa, they use their facilities against you, especially when they know where you are coming from,” Zikiye tried to explain.
“Sometimes they play their games at night or they use the weather that would not favour their opponents or maybe they put you in a hotel close to the beach and all these are to distract you.”
The Full back insists that as professionals, players should be able to adapt to situations but it is not enough as they need a lot more than that.
“In Nigeria, they will just tell you to play and win, but we do not know how to use what we have at our disposal to win.
“We also have the right structures and facilities here, but unlike the North Africans, we do not put them into proper use.
“We have floodlights all over the stadia in Nigeria, but do we use them?” Zikiye asks, somewhat rhetorically.
“We do not play League games at night. We do not even see night games as normal games in Nigeria and that is why we think they are special when our teams travel to see them,” Zikiye said.
He recounted a time his team was in Mali to play a game and during training, the floodlights were turned on.
“At 5 pm we went for work out and as we were about to start warming up, they turned on the floodlights and it looked strange to us but we have all of these back home that we do not use.
“And it is not about riches as Nigeria has more money than some of these countries and we have these facilities but do not use them and this may just contribute a bit to why we do not do so well on the continent.”
Jonathan Zikiye wishes that Nigerian clubs begin to use the facilities they have at their disposal, and also their environment to their advantage in the League as it will also help them on the continent.
“If we continue like this, our clubs will not do well on the continent even if Gernot Rohr comes to coach one of the clubs.”