So many issues are coming up in sports almost on a daily basis especially football. The international friendly match between Nigeria and Algeria has been on centre stage in the past one week since the world is observing the FIFA international window. While many of the players turned up promptly, some decided to join late. It is important to have an official explanation on the invitation of players and the arrivals. For example, Wilfred Ndidi was one of the early birds in camp but Kelechi Iheanacho, who plays in same club with him, Leicester City, was among the last batch of arrivals.
There should be explanation for some of these little things that could cause disaffection or indiscipline in camp. Some of those who arrived early this time might choose to get to come late next time since there seems to be breakdown of laws in the camp. Beyond that, I am not comfortable with the decision of the NFF and Jose Perseiro to allow Eagles play against Algeria’s B team. That is not good enough the real friendly billed for September 27 is fine but the other one should have been prosecuted by the Eagles B team as well.
Though they failed to qualify for CHAN, they would have gained some exposure in the encounter rather than taking a risk with our Grade A players. There are more to these friendlies than we know. I give the current board of the NFF credit for organizing friendlies but I am certain there are some underlining things the chieftain of the federation are gaining without telling Nigerians. The two friendlies staged in the USA were also arranged not only to boost the team but achieve some personal gains for some select people.
The way our precious brand the Super Eagles were made to face Algeria’s B team show desperation and it is also because many of those who could have corrected this anomaly are busy with the forthcoming election into the board of the football federation. On September 20, the four-year tenure of the current board expired and just as we were anxiously expecting September 30 election date slated for Benin to usher in a new leadership, association of former footballers headed for court to stop the election. And now we are faced with fresh crisis as the ex-players, through a factional head, Harrinson Jalla, area demanding for their inclusion in the statutes of the NFF. This demand is not something that can be achieved easily. It has to be tabled, evaluated and discussed at the Congress while the level of inclusion will also be examined.
The players should have allowed peace to reign and then fight for the inclusion in the next regime in four years. It is a shock that we enjoy swimming in crisis which in the process affects the fortunes of the game. I was surprise to hear former international Victor Ikpeba argue on a TV programme that ex-players should be 37 on the board just as we have 37 chairmen of FAs. That was ridiculous because it is not even automatic for a former player to be a good football administrator. Daniel Amokachi, Karibe Ojigwe, Chikelue Ilouanosi and Ben Akwuegbu have been cleared to vie for positions on the board just as Peterside Idah is competing for NFF presidency.
The inclusion they are asking for is being realized gradually but it cannot be forced like that. The interested former players should play by the rules and enter the board through the state FAs. It was a surprise that Austin Okocha was at some point the Chairman of Delta State FA which placed him on a good stead to eye the NFF presidency in future but he walked out on the Delta job. To play football is different from administering it. Nigeria’s former players should help to develop the game and offer technical assistance in key areas, rather than working towards creating impasse almost always. Nobody can say that the current board has not been fair to the former players. I expect Jalla and his team to vacate their law suit so that we can have an election on September 30, anything contrary will be a big blow to the game in Nigeria.