By Ikeddy  I



NIGERIA has become the laughing stock of the football community. There is no debate about how we got there. The current debates are over whether we even need to get out of the disaster soon.

FIFA, the owner of the game, has not been of much help in this regard. This is unrelated to our qualification for the 2010 World Cup.
My concern is with the conflicting signals about the state of Nigeria’s readiness for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. After numerous visits and suggestions it made about facilities for the competition that is just 22 days away, FIFA is telling Nigeria to look at Egypt as the standard for its competitions.

FIFA, and our officials, were aware that we were not Egypt when they imposed this competition on Nigeria. Those who want Nigeria to host the competition have their motives  the N36 billion budget showed a bit of their hand. They retreated.

Now FIFA has offered them another chance to hack into the national treasury and ask for more money. The new refrain would be that Nigeria would be disgraced if it fails to host the competition. Such falsehood always generates the appropriate setting to waste scarce national resources on a competition that will serve only the insidious, invidious interests of the holocausts of Nigerian sports.

FIFA can take its competition elsewhere, if it cannot manage these facilities that it said were adequate for the event. Our national preference for mediocre sports facilities enjoys the support of FIFA, whose members would be here and condemn the standards, yet they would award us future hosting. FIFA should be ashamed of this double standard.

How can FIFA compare us with Egypt that made a bid for the 1932 Olympic Games that Los Angeles eventually hosted?

Heineken Heckles
WHEN things fail, blame others appears to be the philosophy of Distinguished Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, lawyer, former Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, a self-confessed avid football fan.

His recent criticism of sports journalists whose votes, supposedly won Coach Shuaibu Amodu, the Eagles job over Samson Siasia, contributed nothing to a maladroitness that has been roundly condemned since last year. Where was the Senator when this dangerous precedent was enacted? Was it safe to keep quiet then because he agreed with it?

Outside his ground-breaking stand, what has he done for sports from his elevated position? Was he pleased with Nigeria’s performance at the Beijing Olympics? Does he know about the impending disaster in London 2012 Olympics, if funding is not available soon? Is he aware of next year’s Commonwealth Games? Where is the impact of the public hearing his Committee conducted last year, mostly on the health of Nigerian football?

Senator Lokpobiri was on record for supporting using more than N36 billion to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup, when most people agreed a quarter of that pile could do the job. He missed the point then (as he has again done) when he justified his position by stating that South Africa was spending billions of Dollars for the 2010 World Cup. He was nudged into silence with a reminder about the differences in the magnitude of both competitions.

Family Game
SECRETARY General of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Bolaji Oju-Oba, Ph.d, has high regards for the family. His most recent admonition to those who dabble into criticisms of the mysteries of football administration in Nigeria is to keep quiet unless they can manage their families.

I have tried to establish the link between managing families (whatever that really means) and the Eagles qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Like most of us who cannot know the things those in NFF know, I failed woefully in my efforts. It may really be worth Nigerians’ while to get further elaboration from Dr. Oju-Oba, who for once appears to clarify a matter the NFF befuddles.

When finally the list of those who cost Nigeria the World Cup ticket is compiled, we cannot fail to include those, whose families are in shreds, possibly because the scintillating performance of the Eagles made them to throw themselves into football, forgetting the role is purely only for those in NFF, and anyone they permit to talk about football.

8 Days To More Ifs…
I HAVE been inundated with messages about our sparkling chances of going to the 2010 World Cup. Among the latest “ifs” is that Tunisia would draw against Kenya and we would beat Mozambique (in Abuja) and even if we draw in Nairobi, and Tunisia win their last game, we would be at par on points, and advance on goal differences.

The “head to head” regulation rules out this chance. It looks at the games between the tied teams first in untangling a tie. Technically, the Tunisians won the game in Abuja, 3-2. It was for the same reason that Angola went to the 2006 World Cup, though it drew 1-1 with Eagles in Kano after winning 1-0 in Luanda. On October 11, the speculations would gain new grounds, but we must note that Kenya and Mozambique are battling for points to earn a Nations Cup ticket, and they have exhausted games between them.

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