By John Egbokhan
Nigeriaâ€™s Sports Minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Sani Ndanusa, yesterday, read the riot act to fumbling officials of the National Football Federation, to start preparing to vacate the Glass House in the event of Eaglesâ€™ failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
After watching half-hearted display by the Nigerian squad, who were held to a 2-2 draw by the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia at the Abuja National Stadium on Sunday, Ndanusa, while apologising to Nigerians, has urged fans not to give up on the quest to grab the ticket.
Speaking to Sports Vanguard, Ndanusa told NFF top shots, to prepare for the exit door should they fail to produce the World Cup ticket, which they promised Nigerians, when they sought the plum positions.
â€œI wish to apologise to Nigerians over the performance of the Eagles in the crucial game against Tunisia. We expected victory and a better performance than what we got and as a patriotic Nigerian, I feel the pains of every Nigerian fan, at home and abroad.
â€œPlaying at the World Cup is something special to us as Nigerians because of our great love and passion for the game that we know how to play. That we are where we are now is even more painful due to the unflinching support that President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua has extended to this campaign. The President loves sports with a passion and he wants to see us play at the World Cup.
â€œWe are not yet out of this race and I remain hopeful and I hope that those at the Nigeria Football Federation, who are saddled with running our game and ensuring that the Eagles get to South Africa, understand the implications of not achieving that target, which they on assumption, swore to make a reality.
â€œNigeria is blessed with football stars but what is missing is efficient administration to translate these potentials to results. The Eagles are where they are now because those in the NFF, failed to address basic developmental problems and find suitable persons to execute them. Failure to be at the World Cup would not be accepted by Nigeria and those in the NFF, should brace up to the challenges ahead or ship out to allow right thinking persons to do the jobâ€, added Ndanusa.
He said further that â€œthe government sees the World Cup campaign as a national priority and anybody found wanting in the discharge of his duties would face the music. We have zero tolerance for failure and hope that timely solutions would be found by those administering football.
â€œFootball is about results. We want results and the result, in this matter, is World Cup qualification. If we are not there, there is no point for them remaining in the NFF. They should resign because Nigerians cannot stand persons who cannot deliver on a simple target like South Africa 2010â€, added a fuming and fiery Ndanusa.
Interestingly and somewhat ironically, the likes of current NFF President, Sani Lulu, Amanze Ucheagbulam, Taiwo Ogunjobi, used the failure of the Eagles to qualify for the 2006 World Cup to see to the exit of the board led by Ibrahim Galadima.