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Reality Check Called Niger

By Ikeddy Isiguzo
IF you are a good listener  or a good reader of the lines that have been laced around Nigeria’s loss to Niger Republic in the qualifiers of the CAF Championship for players based in the continent  you would realise that we relish in excuses.
The excuse was that we lost the game to the hot weather in Kano.

The truth is that someone chose Kano, who knew the weather, who knew that our players struggled to a 2-0 loss in Niger weeks earlier, but who thought the game was unimportant enough to be relegated to honouring a member of the Nigeria Football Association, who died in a motor accident in the course of seeing to the success of the national team in this competition.

Nobody would like to be associated with the disgrace that took place in Kano, not even the dead. The loss had nothing to do with Kano, either as a match venue or even the weather. It had everything to do with a Nigeria Football Association that is incapable of applying itself to multi-task situations.

When Nigeria was thrown out of the first of this competition that CAF invented strictly for players based in Africa, Nigeria paid it scant attention. Nigeria was then bundled out in the qualifiers. Was the game in Kano?

The result against Niger was a reality check. It shows the state of Nigerian football, though we would keep making a song of our qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, as if it is a verdict on how well the game in Nigeria runs.

I passed through the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja (international wing) on March 16, the day the Eagles were returning from their lost game in Niger. If I did not know the coaches, I would not have believed that was the national team (whatever side if it).

The team arrived from Niger, nobody was waiting for it. The officials had to ask the players to wait for the bus. When the bus arrived, it was a rickety affair that some would not use to convey waste to a refuse dump. The NFA cannot afford a decent bus for the national team. What else could the NFA not afford for the team?

Anyone who is surprised about the loss to Niger must have been deceived by the cosmetic balms that our football administrators apply to issues, with all their attention on pricing national resources to themselves. Every situation suits them.

We lost to Niger, it is a good reason to apply more resources to preparing for the World Cup in South Africa, over which a scandal is already brewing on accommodation for the Eagles. They are not interested in the disgrace the loss entails. Nothing tells them that results like these hint at the decayed foundation on which our football stands.

Most African countries are using this limited version of the Nations Cup to create opportunities for players in their domestic leagues. The NFA is concerned with the big picture  the World Cup, where the money is big, and the blames for failures very defused because everyone knows that with an association of this manner, even the best players in the world would not do well, yet we longer have good players, not to talk of the best in the world.

Niger was a timely assessment of the domestic league, the incredulity of the country that produced some of the best U-17 players in the world only last October failing to press these experienced youngsters into urgent national service and most depressingly, an NFA that is fully distracted with getting itself back in office by all foul means.

The future of our football is dead when the NFA does not pay attention to programmes that can produce and nurture new players to make the national teams competitive. To truly show how determined it is to ruin what is left of our football, the NFA has since moved on to other things, as if the loss to Niger never happened or has no meaning.
It is important to know that losses of this nature would soon be routine because the locusts have eaten our football  and they are still not satisfied with the extent of the damage they have done, which explains their desperation to remain in office.
Everyone who loves this game bears a burden to intervene and rescue our football.

NOC’s Wrangle Continues
THE Nigeria Olympic Committee has played itself into irrelevance. Even the International Olympic Committee has a lower standard for dealing with the leadership of the NOC. Now that former Minister of Sports Minister Sani Ndanusa has lost his ministerial position, let us see if he would sustain his interest in the presidency. I think the conflict of interest is resolved.

On the other hand, Abu Gumel, NOC President, should make his contributions to sports elsewhere. He has become a big distraction to the NOC. His critics may hesitate to call his departure from office a sacrifice, but I think it is for a man who thinks he has so much to give to the NOC that life outside NOC for him is unimaginable.
The NOC can do with some leadership to return it to life; it is a dying organisation too.


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