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Christmas With January Concerns

By Ikeddy Isiguzo

THERE are reasons to worry this Christmas than whether there would be lots to eat and drink. If your thing is sports, you cannot be thinking of Christmas without lots of space for January 10, when the Nations Cup commences in Angola.

Two days after, the Eagles would take on Egypt in a game most predict the Nigerian side would need guts to survive, in the manner of a draw. Triumph over Egypt is rated as over expectation.

Nigerian football has degenerated. Nothing is certain, or as the more hip pop-minded folks would say, anything can happen. We fail the simplest tests, while we can scale through the toughest ones. The uncertainty about the abilities of the Green Eagles has never been more pronounced.

Egypt never used to be trouble for Nigeria and Nations Cup draws have spared us the agonies of playing Egypt in the main competition.

Egypt has proved to be the best in Africa. As the defending champions, winning back to back from 2006, Egypt is comfortable against most opponents and even in its lowest moments refuses to show the anxiety that has become a hallmark of the Nigerian team.

We worry more. We have a football association that works wonders where there is absolutely no need for such performance. When it comes to its most basic duties, it fails the test so woefully that we are at loss about what exactly the association does.

Some of the things that are becoming obvious include the fact that Shuaibu Amodu does not need to bother how well he does at the Nations Cup. It has transpired that he was hired without a specific target set for him. If there was, he had decided to ignore it and boldly tells everyone so.

Those who are saying he has something to prove have forgotten he made the point about himself in Nairobi with the 2010 World Cup ticket only last October. Could we have forgotten that soon? How ungrateful can we be?

I remember that October. I led the group, from my tiny corner, which predicted the World Cup chase was over. Just as Amodu would be proud of grabbing the ticket, I make bold to say the query some of us posed about Amodu’s abilities partly accounted for him trying to prove us wrong. Those who believe in luck say lots of it was in Amodu’s favour.

Nobody can blame Amodu for whatever happens from this point. We wanted a World Cup ticket badly. He gave it to us  it was a climax of us. While this was going on nobody mentioned the recently discovered importance of the Nations Cup as a benchmark for his capabilities.

A Presidential Task Force on the World Cup, imagining that it was speaking for the President, is imposing conditions on Amodu, forgetting the man has a subsisting contract with the football association. The anti-campaign Amodu is not new. If the football association had the funds, and found a coach willing to stake his future with an association that thrives on its unpredictability, Amodu would long have been gone.

I guess he would survive this new one. However, unlike last October when he survived and saved Nigeria from the ignominy of seeing two World Cups pass without her, he has little motivation to prove anything now, not to certain intruders who have no place in his contract, and who, like me, gave him no chance of getting as far as he did.

All these are enough reasons to be grossly concerned about the Nations Cup. We have a team riddled with injuries, though we know miracles are exhaustible, and a coach who knows everyone is opposed to him, especially those who claim in public they are his supporters.

It is too stiff worrying about January instead of enjoying the offerings of Christmas. The feelings in the air could be that it would be merely Christmas, but I wish our readers Merry Christmas. They desire more than that no matter what the Nations Cup throws at a country that still has to under that winning wars demand different strategies from winning battles.

Still On NOC
SILENCE over elections into the executive offices of the Nigeria Olympic Committee is unnerving. After the false start of holding the elections in Dutse, it would have been important to get things going at a faster pace than we are seeing (rather not seeing).

It is important that all the changes that would prove a conducive setting for the elections are ion place before the next date. The way things are going the electorate would assemble again.

My position remains the same  the NOC constitution has to be amended and the two obstructive contenders (Sports Minister Sani Ndanusa and Abu Gumel) persuaded to leave the race for the survival of the NOC in any meaningful shape. All those who know the duo should weigh in for the sustenance of the final piece of authority left for our sports.

NEVER to be forgotten is the $236,000 that has been missing from the coffers of the football association since last March. I thought this matter could have been resolved this year, but it would remain an item in 2010.
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