Former Cameroon midfielder Geremi Njitap has called for adequate support for Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi in order that he might succeed.
Keshi was handed a new two-year contract on Tuesday, ten months after his previous deal expired at the end of the World Cup while he worked on a per-game contract during the failed 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.
Geremi, a member of the highly talented 2000 and 2002 Afcon-winning Indomitable Lions, said that the Nigeria Football Federation needs to put everything in place in order for the 53-year-old to do well.
“I’m happy for him because they gave him another contract, it means that they trust him. But they have to support him. It’s not only him that has to make the difference,” Geremi told Goal at Heineken’s #ChampionTheMatch in Lagos.
Cameroon defeated Nigeria in the final of the 2000 Afcon in Lagos via penalties and retained their title at the next edition against Senegal.
Geremi, 36, played in that Indomitable Lions core which also won the Olympic gold medal at Sydney 2000.
“Nigeria are like Cameroon, they think that they will always have talents but it’s not every time.
“They have to work hard and put in some money and encourage young kids to play football.
“Good education, as well, will help the country,” he said.
Cameroon have seen a fall in their football fortunes since 2002 when they won their fourth African title – they failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2013 editions before finishing bottom of their group in 2015.
They also had a disastrous campaign marked by on-field player altercation in Brazil as they made their seventh World Cup appearance. They are presently ranked 48th in the world, 11 spots behind tiny Cape Verde islands.
Geremi, who played 116 times for the Lions, believes that structural problems are responsible for the drop.
“Our government and the people who mange our football are asleep. They thought we would always have talents,” said the two time Uefa Champions League winner.
“The way football is going now, people prepare the future, the players have to start from the youth teams.
“When you expect to have good players in the future, you need to start from when they are young.
“In Cameroon, before we used to have pitches, not really spectacular, but grounds where kids could play. We don’t have that anymore.
“Now the young boys don’t play football, they are in front of the TV playing video games.
“We need to have infrastructure, we need to have good coaches that’s why some smaller countries are overtaking us because they are putting money in it and investing in infrastructure and they are getting results,” said the former Real Madrid and Chelsea midfielder.