By Onochie Anibeze
The Green Eagles were a pitiable sight at the airport in Luanda, yesterday. They were waiting for flight back to their various bases although a good number of them were Nigeria bound. They were about the only team that had to go through such rigours in Angola especially among the countries that advanced to the last stages of the just concluded Nations Cup.
The others enjoyed the services of chartered aircraft. Some countries like Benin Republic even chartered aircraft for their fans. Algeria had one for the team and three for their fans. Benin had one for their team and two for the supporters.
Nigeria, the so-called giants of Africa, had none for the team. The Presidential Task Force, PTF, had one for themselves. After Nigeriaâ€™s first two matches, they returned home and promised to return if the team got to the quarter-final stage. The Eagles reached that stage but the PTF never showed up in Angola again. The bad blood between them and the Nigeria Football Federation had become apparent and they stayed away.
It was clear they were not cooperating on major issues. The Task Force had made a case for a foreign coach immediately after they were sworn in. But some of their members did not help matters by publicly pitching tent with Amodu and saying different things in meetings. The issue of coaching became knotty one that created disaffection between the NFF and PTF.
Though the Football Federation once said that they would swim or sink with Amodu, the PTF maintained that the Nations Cup would determine Amoduâ€™s fate. They felt it was too late to change a coach and decided to give Amodu a chance to prove self. The NFF, on their own later realigned with the PTF and said from Angola that they would also subscribe to the choice of a foreign coach for the World Cup. They explained that â€œswimming and sinking with Amoduâ€ statement was a normal way to support their coach and it did not mean that they did not want the best for Nigeria.
Observers note that for Nigeria to achieve success at the World Cup,Â PTF and the NFF must work together especially now that both bodies have agreed on the issue of a foreign coach for Nigeria.
â€œItâ€™s unfortunate that we are here loitering at the airport to catch flight home when other countries that did not even go far were flown in chartered planes,â€ one official of the team said yesterday, adding:
â€œOur government has not treated us fairly.â€