By Ikeddy ISIGUZO, Chairman, Editorial Board
THE 2014 World Cup is actually five short years away. The qualifications for Brazil 2014 could begin as early as mid-2012 for some countries. Nigeria may be in that group, depending on how other African countries that make the final fray fare in South Africa 2010.
Calls for preparations to immediately commence for Brazil 2014 ignore strictures with which Nigerian football operates. Unless they are removed, our football will still not make the next World Cup.
Some already think two absences from the World Cup would mark the death of the game in these parts – it should not if with tender care the nationâ€™s football energies are steered to fruitful directions.
The hawks in Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, are ready. Their interests rest in scrambling for the remnants of the game. Their eyes are on elections into NFF in 2010, it is their version of the World Cup. They want to continue presiding over the decay they have instituted. They have no thoughts at all for the 2014 World Cup. They do not know the future began while they were fighting over opportunities they limited to scrambling for the benefits of hosting World Cup qualifying games, trips abroad, and no accountability, to the point $236,000 missing from its office is nothing.
It is unpardonable for anyone who had a hand in the doom that befell Nigerians on Sunday to consider any future relationship with our football beyond being a spectator, with all the rights and privileges of that position.
In Nigeria, where miracles are routine, NFF members, who lost the World Cup ticket say they have the wand to get the Eagles to South Africa 2010.
Their latest ambition is to deplete the billions of Naira the Presidential Task Force raised for Nigeria to make South Africa. NFF in clinging to the mangled motion of winning the next two ties is being thoroughly untrue to Nigerians.
What is the plan? If there is money, we will get the ticket, NFF will soon tell those with the purse. NFF needs money for everything, including inspection of venues, mobilisation of supporters, monitoring the Eagles at their foreign bases, ensuring Kenyan supporters travel in their numbers to Tunisia to distract our foes, awareness, tactical (meaning native doctors, prayer warriors of various beliefs and disbeliefs, would be assembled to change the mind of the Almighty about who qualifies from our group).
Millions of Naira would be poured into this new adventure. Nobody would complain about costs since billions of Naira is there to be spent. With their football lives tottering to an end, NFF members cling to the Eagles remaining two games.
Suggestions about resignations or sanctions are discarded with the retort that NFF remains firmly committed to winning the 2010 World Cup ticket in keeping with the policies of the Yarâ€™Adua administration (maybe a part of the seven-point agenda).
Tunisians are no fools. They would not vacate the seat for Nigeria, which from the Mozambique draw proved its poor understanding of the importance of taking every chance around the World Cup ticket. Which players would win two straight World Cup ties, including one in Nairobiâ€™s altitude? Are they the ones paraded in Abuja?
It is doubtful if they would have the guts to show their faces in Abuja again after missing two great chances of overtaking Tunisia. In Rades, on June 20, the Tunisians handed us a great gift, a lifeline to remain in contention. In Abuja, we were meant to throw Tunisia out of the World Cup flight. We opted to return the favour. The time for favours is over.
The beauty of deciding about 2014 now is that we can set standards for a new NFF board and monitor them. The rules and regulations NFF operates are succinct that the main role of NFF is to see to the growth of the game. The challenge for the NFF today is no longer to ensure improvements in the Nigerian game, rather, its members must find the courage to quit.
A great coach, a responsible NFF board, and the billions of Naira remaining in the coffers can get us to Brazil 2014. If we realise the extent of the rot, we would quickly admit it is even getting late to start afresh.