With barely two months to go to the kick-off of the world’s most glamorous and most watched sporting spectacular, the FIFA Senior World Cup, all the thirty two finalists are by now surely putting the final pieces in place for the journey to Brazil.
True, there are teams for whom participation alone is enough motivation to prepare well for the tournament as they, their supporters, the pundits and the bookmakers do not see them making it beyond the first round of matches. Nigeria is certainly not in this category on account of our pedigree and past showings in continental and global football tournaments. Our preparations are therefore tailored towards not only making up the numbers but also giving a very good account of ourselves and doing the country and Africa proud in Brazil by standing shoulder to shoulder and mixing it up creditably with the world’s best footballing nations.
It is however, pertinent at this stage to observe that some recent happenings in our footballing clime have the potentials of casting shadows on our preparations and unwittingly marring our dreams of an outing in Brazil worthy of our reputation, pedigree and capability.
I am worried and all soccer loving Nigerians should also be perturbed. My source of worry is the spate of the needless and unnecessary distractions that the NFF is constantly having to contend with in the recent past. The first that readily comes to mind is the innocuous (and, I dare say, right) decision by the NFF board to seek to appoint an assistant for Stephen Keshi. This simple administrative move (perfectly in order and within the purview of the powers of the board) was enough to set tongues wagging among the avowed critics of the Board who latched on to it and used it to create confusion and bedlam.
The fact that the Board averred that Keshi was at liberty to pick such an assistant did nothing to stem the tide of innuendo against the Board. There was also the veiled attempt by some so called analysts and football administrators to rail–road Keshi into changing his mind and recalling players he had jettisoned for professional reasons.
Add to these to Sylvanus Okpala’s diatribe and malicious, unsubstantiable and therefore unsubstantiated allegation of financial impropriety and the highly laughable and ridiculous charge by some that the NFF President Aminu Maigari was working to undermine Keshi and what you have is an amazingly annoying and disgusting design aimed at unsettling the NFF Board and the Super Eagles handlers ahead of the 2014 World Cup finals-a luxury we cannot afford.
This therefore is a passionate appeal to all and sundry to shun all things capable of distracting the NFF from its noble and patriotic task of ensuring that the Eagles soar majestically in Brazil. The task at hand requires our unquestioning support. Those who are incapable of giving it should do well to maintain a silence of any kind.
•Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, is a retired NTA Executive Director, Former Member Plateau, Bauchi and Kaduna States Football Associations and One time Chairman Bauchi State Football Association