Kolkata: Once highest paid foreign player in Indian foorball, Nigerian forward Odafa Okolie has returned to Mecca of Indian football, Kolkata, as the prolific goalscorer has been unveiled by I-League 2nd Division side Southern Samity today. The three times’ highest goalscorer in the history of Hero I-League has been handed over the no.9 jersey of the club by the President Ratan Dey.
The goal-machine, who has been on the second spot among the all time highest goalscorers’ list, with 179 goals in Indian football, will play for Southern Samity in the final stage of the 2nd Division I-League to help his side to get the promotion to play in the main stage of the Hero I-League. In the press conference Odafa roared in his usual style, as he said, “It is not where I’m playing. Odafa is still Odafa”. He added, “I have come here again. I will do my job but it should be a team effort to qualify for the main stages of the Hero I-league.”
The 6’ft tall Nigerian has the most number of hat-tricks in the history of Hero I-league as he scored thirteen hat-tricks in the competition in his career. The forward was out for months as he last played against Kingfisher East Bengal in the previous season and had been nursing that injury for a long time. Though he claims that he is now completely fit. In the press meet he turned down all the questions which were thrown to him regarding the price tag he has when he last played for Mohun Bagan a few years back, as he claimed, “It’s not always money, at times relationships play bigger roles”, he added, “I’m confident but as I mentioned before, it should be a collective effort from the team to reach the distance.”
Odafa also said, “I have won all the trophies in India except the Federation Cup and still I’m looking for new challenges in the 2nd Division I-League. It’s not where I’m playing, people will say, Odafa is playing.” Odafa is keeping an eye in this season’s I-League as well. He said, “East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Aizawl all are there in the race. But Khalid Jamil has been doing a great job with Aizawl FC and he is a nice a nice guy as well.”
The ace forward criticized the standard of Indian Super League, as he said, “I hardly watch the league. Even if I watch, it’s not more than five minutes. The quality is no longer close to what I maintain. Many foreigners who are playing are nowhere near to my standard.”
Wherever he played, Odafa Okolie has created controversies. But the goal poacher replied, “I worked with Karim Bencherifa when I was there in Churchill Brothers. I worked with him again when he was there in Mohun Bagan. Had there been any problem, I couldn’t have worked with him. This is more of speculating controversies rather than anything else.”
Odafa mentioned that the experience of players like Deepak Mondal and Sandip Nandy in Southern Samity will come handy in their mission to qualify for the main stage of the I-League.