By Mike Ebonugwo
Football-loving bus-stop parliamentarians are worried over the uncertainty surrounding the players to represent Nigeria in the forthcoming Under-17 World Cup which the country is hosting in October.
This followed reports that a recent age test carried out on members of the Golden Eaglets revealed that 16 of them are over-aged, hence are not qualified to represent the country in that capacity.
This was the issue that dominated discussions during a recent parliamentary gathering at the Mile Two Bus-stop in Lagos. One of the parliamentarians by name Fred Okpe had in response to the development castigated Coach Obuh for reportedly disavowing his earlier promise to win the tournament for Nigeria over the age issue.
â€œWhat isÂ wrong with Obuh sef? Why is he now saying that he cannot raise a winning team between now and October when the Under-17 World Cup will be holding in Nigeria. Look, the man should not go and disgrace us O. He should know that we are the one hosting this tournament apart from the fact that we are also the defending champion of the Under-17 ,â€ he stated with a frown.
Another parliamentarian by name Ephraim Okere picked it up from there. â€œDonâ€™t mind the man. It only shows that he can only win with over-aged players. He knew all along that his players were over-aged; that is why he started boasting and promising Nigerians that he would retain the cup for Nigeria.
But now that FIFA has spoiled show for him by introducing age test which has exposed hi players as over-aged, he is crying and saying heâ€™s not sure of winning again. Is that not a shameful thing? If Nigerian Football Federation knows what theyâ€™re doing, they should sack him and bring in another person who can raise a genuine Under-17 team that can represent us well in the competition,â€ he submitted.
But a parliamentarian who gave his name as Marcel Obinna felt that the previous speakers were being unfair to the coach. â€œWhy are you people talking as if Coach Obuh is responsible for those players being over-aged. How will he know if they are lying about their ages when he is not their father? If the player presents the coach with a certificate or affidavit claiming that he is a certain age how will the coach know that he is lying?
So blaming Obuh for the age problem of the Golden Eaglets is totally wrong. And you can also not fault him when he says that he has no time to raise a good team before the competition starts. After losing 16 players through the age test, how does one expect him to raise a winning team overnight when he is not a magician? Abeg make una leave the man alone joo!â€ he quipped with feeling.
Parliamentarian Rotimi Adams readily agreed with him. â€œItâ€™s true now; Obuh is not to blame. But that one is not even the issue. The point is, why is everybody concentrating on Nigeria on this age matter? Are we the only country in the world using players that are over-aged?
So, what is the noise all about? In fact, I even suspect that either FIFA or some other countries are afraid that Nigeria will win the cup again and want to stop us at all cost. They know they will not be able to do that on the field; thatâ€™s why theyâ€™re using this age test tactics. How are we even sure that those 16 players actually failed the test.
Supposing they rigged the test to ensure that our best players are disqualified? Honestly I donâ€™t trust these Oyibo people and their wayo,â€ he posited.