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Preparing With FIFA’s $1m

By Ikedi Isiguzo

IF ever you hear that a country is advertising to hire a coach, it must be Nigeria. If the list turns out as long as what the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, presents, the implication is that the there is no serious effort to hire anyone.

What are we to make of all these? At the start NFA said it had no money to hire a foreign coach. There was a hint of regret in its tune. The NFA sounded as if it would have wanted to see Coach Shuaibu Amodu leave immediately the qualifications were concluded. For the NFA, it was an opportunity that presented some contradictions.

If the NFA fired Amodu, it would have fallen flat on its face with claims that it believed in Amodu’s abilities. The NFA was too carried away by the qualification struggle it never thought of what would follow.

Amodu was an albatross for the NFA. The usual business of hiring foreign coaches and the access it gives those in that arm of the football business to hijack a fundamental aspect of the game was lost each time Amodu failed to get the Eagles out of the World Cup.

What I find gladdening is that the Amodu has stated he would NOT work with a foreign coach. It is a bold pronouncement that I would want to see him execute. In effect, Amodu is unwilling to share his glory with anybody.

I sincerely hope that he would not succumb to pressure to rescind a decision that I think would for the first time give the Nigerian coach a chance to know that he cannot forever play the second fiddle. Results  were critical to key decisions that were made or not made about Amodu. However, it looks like the major issue is finance. The NFA cannot employ a coach because it does not have the funds, or so it claims.

When it was talking about money as the problem with the preparations, the NFA played ignorant of the fact that FIFA would pay money for World Cup preparations. FIFA has been paying countries that qualified for years.

This year FIFA is paying $1m to each country that qualified for the 2010 World Cup, no matter how rich or poor the country is. Why does  NFA carry on as if it would be short of funds for the World Cup preparations? Does the billion Naira budget NFA presented to government include an account of its expectations from FIFA?

On its part, the National Assembly has to be more serious with the demand for accountability from government agencies like the NFA, which recklessly draw from public funds without thinking that they need to account for their activities.

It is convenient for the NFA to pretend it has no money. It is one of the ploys of NFA to ensure that the country is confused about the sources of funding that are available to our football. The FIFA funding is important and should be used optimally.

The NFA should be telling Nigerians how it intends to spend the money, instead of taking a flight into fantasies that include its unstable position on employing a foreign coach.

Now that NFA has funds would it employ a foreign coach? Who is this coach? What is NFA’s ambition in South Africa 2010? Where would this decision leave Amodu? Would Amodu really take a walk if a foreigner is employed.

All these have their implications. A new coach may bring excitement, but it would also mark a new beginning that would be too late for the event in South Africa. I expect a smooth flow from the Nations Cup to the World Cup.
In a group of Argentina, South Korea and Greece, Nigeria should be counting itself a bit lucky with the draws, but there are lots of rooms for concerns. What do we do between now and June? Has NFA established the link between the Nations Cup and the World Cup?

Nigerians have so keyed into this World Cup business that I sometimes wonder what else we do expect follow football.

Whatever Happens…

ELECTIONS into the Executive Board of the Nigeria Olympic Committee were meant to hold in Dutse, Jigawa State on Wednesday.

The NOC is  already fractionalised. There is a little chance that there would limits to the damage the confrontations between Mr. Sani Ndanusa, the Minister of Sports/Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Vice President of the African Tennis Confederation, President of Nigeria Tennis Federation, and Mr. Abu Gumel, President of the NOC, IOC Member in Nigeria, Vice President of the International Volleyball Federation, President of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation should not have happened, if both men cared for well-being of  the Nigerian sports.

Whatever happens in Jigawa would be another eye opener to the selfishness that ruins our sports. Just look at the long titles attached to the names of these individuals. They hold other responsibilities outside sports. Why are they bent on stifling sports development through their narrow ambitions?

At a time I thought sports would come alive through the implementation of the Vision 2020 report, I never imagined the death that lurks in the corner for sports, no thanks to selfish men.

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