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Samson Okpako: Samson Siasia made me better

Posted: 20 April 2010 Time: 15:06

Kano Pillars midfielder Solomon Okpako credits his progress from Under-20 reject to Super Eagles invitee to Samson Siasia, who axed him from the Flying Eagles team.

At the time, Okpako was acknowledged as one of the best holding midfielders in the domestic league, but was as shocked as league watchers when Siasia told him he was not good enough to make the squad to Egypt.

"I was surprised, but I was not disappointed because football has its ups and downs for every player and I felt that maybe it was not my time," Okpako told

"But when the coach dropped me, he told me the things I was doing wrong. Some of the things he said was that I was not going forward enough and I was not joining up quick enough with the rest of the team when we were attacking.

"So I went back to Kano Pillars and I told them what the coach said and what he asked me to do."

Okpako, who will turn 20 in May, said the change was almost instant.

"The coaches there helped me to work on it and I started seeing the improvements.

"Before, I could only play as a defensive midfielder, but now, I can play as an attacking midfielder like I did in some games at the WAFU Cup, and I can also play as a support striker.

"Also, I never used to score goals, but I scored three goals at the WAFU Cup, and it is all because of what Siasia told me. I believe I am a better player because of him."

That was not the first time Okpako would suffer rejection. Starting his league career with Bendel United in 2005, Okpako left them when the club were relegated that year. But he was turned away by city rivals Insurance when he attempted to join them for the following season.

With nowhere else to go, the midfielder spent a full season at home before packing his bags and heading up north to join Kano Pillars at the end of the 2006 season.

"I just didn’t know what to door where to go after Insurance rejected me. But I always believed that God would make a way for me."

Over the weekend, Okpako was one of six players from the domestic league named by Lars Lagerback in his 44-man provisional World Cup squad, and he says it did not come to him as a surprise, after consistent performances with Pillars.

"From the way I have been playing, I believed that I would be invited," he said.

Now, it is time for him to go one step further and prove his worth on the biggest stage of all "All I can do is go there and give my best. If the coach likes what I do, maybe I can make it. But I don’t want to think about anything but how to work hard and give my best."

Solomon Okpako Fact File:

Date of Birth: May 1, 1990 State of Origin: Delta State Height: 5'7 Weight: 68 kg Position: Holding midfield Other positions: Central Midfield, Support Striker Previous clubs: Bendel United 2005, Current club: Kano Pillars

Previous comments on this story...

posted: 03:16 pm
At least he never bad Mouthed Siasia,even after dropping him. Now this one Humble player who loves the game and always wants to learn. Take note Larger and CO.
posted: 03:31 pm
Did any1 notice that this guy described exactly how Mikel plays with Chelsea. That is what Sia1 condemned, hopefully, Lagerfront too can observed that and improve him (Mikel) for us.
posted: 03:38 pm
@promo it might not be a clever idea to bad mouth somebody that might be the super eagles manager in future.
posted: 04:08 pm
Take a bow mate!!!! Its rare for people to admit their flaw the way you only shows you are a legend in the making...I have no doubt whatsoever you'll get there in time...
posted: 04:09 pm
Eagles scorers stats: Goalie beats Kanu

This might be shocking, but it is true. One of Nigeria's top scorers in Europe this season is actually the Nigerian number one goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

He has scored the same number of goals for his club this season as Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Chinedu Ogbuke-Obasi, and has scored more than Kanu Nwankwo, John Utaka and Victor Anichebe.

Enyeama scored five goals in the Israeli League for his club Hapoel Tel Aviv, as well as a goal in the Europa Cup campaign; all through penalty kicks.

After Lagerback's team was released over the weekend we took time out at to research the goal scoring stats of the strikers and some midfielders for your consumption.

Nigeria's top scorers in Europe

1. Peter Utaka - OB Odense - 20 goals
Newly called up Peter Utaka leads the strikers with 15 goals for his club OB Odense in the Danish League. He also scored 2 Europa Cup goals and 3 League Cup goals. He started in every game he played for his club [28], but was subbed 15 times.

2. Ideye Aide Brown - Neuchatel Xamax/Sochaux - 16 goals
Former Bayelsa United striker Ideye Brown started the new season with Neuchatel Xamax in the Swiss premier division, before moving to French side Sochaux. The diminutive forward blitzed through the first half of the season, netting 12 times between July and December. He has added 3 Coupe de France goals and a league goal since joining Sochaux in January.

3. Joseph Akpala - Club Brugges - 10 goals
Club Brugge striker Joseph Akpala appeared 26 times for his club this season and scored 6 times. He also scored 3 goals in the Europa Cup and 1 goal in the Belgian Cup.

4. Kalu Uche - Almeria - 7 goals
Usually played by Amodu Shuaibu as an attacking midfielder, Kalu Uche plays a striking role for his club Almeria, where he has netted 7 times in the Primera Liga. He has started 18 games, and was used as a sub 7 times. He also has two assists.

5. Obafemi Martins - Wolfsburg - 7 goals
Wolfsburg striker Obafemi Martins has netted 6 times in the Bundesliga, and once in the Europa Cup to rake in a total of 7 goals. Five of his goals were scored in 2009. He has started six league games and has been utilized as a substitute nine times.

6. Vincent Enyeama - Hapoel Tel Aviv - 6 goals
Hapoel Tel Aviv penalty specialist, and Nigeria's number one goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, has scored 5 times in the league and once in the Europa Cup competition this season.

6. Chinedu Obasi - Hoffenheim - 6 goals
Hoffenheim have been brought down to earth after last season's heroics, but Nigerian forward Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi has managed five strikes in the league. He is yet to score since November '09 for the club. He also scored once in the DFB Cup competition.

6. Yakubu Aiyegbeni - Everton - 6 goals
Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni started the season injured and spent the earlier part getting match fit. He has made 21 appearances scored 5 league goals and one League Cup goal.

9. Kanu Nwankwo - Portsmouth - 4 goals
Veteran striker Kanu Nwankwo has turned in 2 league goals and 2 cup goals to bring his total haul to 4 goals for the season. He has made 25 appearances in all, usually as a substitute.

Victor Nsofor [3], Femi Ajilore [3], John Utaka [2], Victor Anichebe [1].

* These figures are current up to this date.(

9ja Voice
posted: 04:17 pm
@Bibby....leave Mikel alone. He is a chelsea player and has played under many great coaches. They never condemed his style. Rather he is part of their team.

Makalele the best in this position never scored
posted: 04:52 pm
@Bibby.. u are right, i observe the comment.

@9ja... mikel is a professional player quite sure but his football is not progresive. makalele move forward.

posted: 04:54 pm
how possible is midfielder Solomon Okpako to starts his football career with bendel united at the age of 15years? hahahahah AGE cheaters. thats what we called FOOTBALL AGE.
posted: 04:58 pm
@bibby u are right. i observe the comment.

@9ja.. mikel is a professional player but his football is not progressive. makalele is far better than mikel.
posted: 05:15 pm
Hi folks, just a thot to all those who think people are overly excited by Lars' list.

1) Hitherto, there was no competition for shirts in the SE, we all could name the players with 90% accuracy. Whether these players were fit or not was not an issue, they will always play! Well, now Lars has come out to say all will have an equal chance; this can only mean one thing "competition for shirts" which is what we need

2) No one can dispute that most of our finest players, at the moment, were in Angola but were they at their best? NO!! Why was this? Your guess is as good as mine. We all know what a change in coaches can do to a team (Barcelona Rijkard - Guardiola; Chelsea Scolari - Huddink; Cameroun Pfister - Le Guen etc) This is the factor we are banking on. Believe me, the Yak under Largerbak will be completely different from the Yak under... you know who! Same for most other players & anyway if they don't improve their play, they can be sure they won't be pick on sentiments like it happened at Angola.

3) The difference between the team @ Angola & the one to South Africa might not be much in terms of the playing personnel but it will be in the tactical awareness of the coach & the attitude of the players.
Our former coach could not get the players to play with all their hearts for Nigeria & that was his undoing more than anything (He shot himself in the foot by not allowing competition for shirts period).

posted: 05:34 pm
Nigeria is full of AGE CHEATS, period.
posted: 06:03 pm
How can this man be 19 years old? So he last played for Bendel United when he was 14 or 15 years old.
posted: 06:55 pm
This guy had better kept quiet because he had already casting dark shadow on Siasia's 'achievements'. If Coach Siasia dropped him in 2005 for the U-21 when he was supposed to be 15 years and playing for Bendel United, a proffessional club by then..........

God Bless my country Nigeria.
posted: 06:56 pm
This guy had better kept quiet because he had already casting dark shadow on Siasia's 'achievements'. If Coach Siasia dropped him in 2005 for the U-21 when he was supposed to be 15 years and playing for Bendel United, a proffessional club by then..........

God Bless my country Nigeria.
posted: 07:37 pm
Does calling for AGE CHEATERS again, is this guy the only footballer that player for a professional team at the age of 15 before? Even Amed Musa, our own league highest goal scorer is how old? Learn to be positive.
posted: 07:37 pm
1. Why did a team (Eagles B) with so much potential lose to minnows Niger Republic?
2. Why was the Eagles B unable to score a single goal in two legs against Niger Republic only to score 14 goals in five matches against stronger opposition?

Don’t you think that the absence of good and proper planning and selection interference and the venue for the home-leg by NFF is the cause? Playing at Kano is more or less playing at Niger. Just a thought!
posted: 08:32 pm
posted: 08:35 pm
@john...nice work ..nice work..keep it up
posted: 09:22 pm
@Kayode, Point of correction..
Siasia dropped the guy last year for the junior world cup in Egypt not the one in Holland 2005. You read and digest what you see before you jump into conclusion....
posted: 11:26 pm
Games like Espanyol vs Barca and Inter vs Barca are what a good tactician needs to fashion out a way of keeping Messi quiet. I hope Lars does his homework very well and I pity Maradona if he intends banking on his star players alone in the world cup. Right tactics could be the deciding factor at the end of the day and not reliance on already-fagged out players.
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