By Richard Animam
Ex- international Adokie Amiesimaka has described the statement credited to NFA executive committee member, Taiwo Ogunjobi accusing him of â€˜having an agendaâ€™ as utterly childish and not surprising. He went on to say the statement is totally irresponsible and an unenlightened reaction from the NFA.
The former Sharks of Port Harcourt chairman had claimed in his weekly column that Nigeriaâ€™s U-17 captain Fortune Chukwudi is over aged and the NFA did not take it lightly. Ogunjobi went on to accuse the former Eagles winger of being unpatriotic and seeking to have those in the football house removed to create vacancy for himself and people of like mind.
Fifteen players from Nigeriaâ€™s team were dropped in the run-up to the tournament after they failed to pass an MRI age-verification test.
Chukwudi was one of those who passed, but his age has been called into question by Amiesimaka, who says the player turned out for him as an 18-year-old seven years ago.
The claim has left Ogunjobi fuming. â€œHe is just looking for a way to discredit Nigerian football,â€ Ogunjobi flared.
â€œPeople like him, we know their plans. They are not after the interest of the country. They just want to discredit those who are there now so they can come in and take over,â€ Ogunjobi said.
â€œThey did the MRI test both in Nigeria and in Doha when they went for the training camp and they all passed. We did not just rely on the test we did in Nigeria.
â€œIn fact, just to be sure, we took three of the players who failed originally so that they could do the test again and they still failed.
â€œI can assure you that if we do the test again, all our players will pass.â€â€œHow can a sane person be writing something like that at this time? They are just surprised that the team is doing well and they are looking for a way to discredit Nigerian football.â€
But Amiesimaka again responded by saying the current article is only one in a long list he has been writing calling for sanity in the countryâ€™s age-grade system.
â€œI have written over 200 articles and even this one is part of a series that I started a few weeks ago, so how can anyone say I have not been speaking out?
â€œI recall clearly that during that time, we played a friendly match against the Flying Eagles, who were camping in Port Harcourt at the time in preparation for a qualifier, and Fortune was one of my prominent defenders then. In fairness to him, he looks as young now as he did then.â€
The Port Harcourt based lawyer said that the NFA people have consistently failed in their responsibility to ensure that we comply with the eligibility rules and the development of the youth system.
â€œReal U-17s should be in school or just passing out, and not men who have been playing in the League for years. â€œWhy canâ€™t they organise competitions to get these talented players to represent the country?â€