By Paul Bassey
When a colleague from Brila FM first called to sound me out on the purported friendly against South Korea, I was very angry and said so. I asked him, â€œ what friendly, why?â€
My reaction was on the spur of the moment. That one of the reasons why I supported a two year ban for the Super Eagles was because I believe we needed time to put our national team in shape. I said we did not need to portray the withdrawal as a punishment, but that we could, intelligently decide not to participate in competitions in the next two years starting with the Nations Cup while putting our house in order.
I said, now that we are going to take part in the Nations Cup, where are the players we were going to use to play? The young man said coach Eguavoen had identifiedÂ and was ready to rescue 15 players from the ruins of the World Cup.
I nearly fainted with laughter. 15? From where?
I did not think we could get 8 players from the hetereogenous bunch that disgraced us at the World Cup. Besides whosoever we were going to bring together, time was needed for them to bond and to gell before exposing them to a major competition like the Nations Cup.
I do not ascribe to blooding our new team in the tick of competition. I must have been making a lot of noise, because as you are reading this, there is no doubt that the NFF is hell bent on going ahead with the friendly with South Korea even with the funny clause that at least half of the players that went to the world cup must be fielded.
In the hurry, a list has been drawn that includes an overbloated number of home based players sprinkled with their foreign counterparts.
My first question is, where is Anichebe, where is Peter Utaka? Why have we retained Dani Shittu, why donâ€™t we allow Mikel Obi to recover properly and be focused in a club where new stars have been signed?
This is recovery time. If South Korea is playing us, it is because they are in the process of rebuilding their team, complete with a new coach. They should also afford us that opportunity of rebuilding sans the foreign legion that did not only disappoint in South Africa, but are now in the process of fighting for dear life in their clubs.
Sir Alex Ferguson of Man U and his counterparts in Chelsea and Liverpool have decided to give their world cup stars time to recover from their post world cup blues. WeÂ should emulate the masters.
Of course it is different here.
In England, the coach has been given an all clear to continue. The German coach has earned a two year extension to his contract. Italy and France were set to replace their coaches even before the world cup ended, while it took South Africa less than one week after the world cup to appoint a new coach and get along with their football life.
Here, the rumour mill reigns supreme fuelled by my colleagues who have joined in the fray. Today you are confronted by bold headlines that say Sia Sia was appointed Last night only for another medium to counter that it is Eguavoen that has been given the mandate. I have also come across a third camp, those rooting for coach Obu to mount the saddle.
In the midst of all the cacophony you will expect the Football association to bring things into perspective. Not here
Parliament Queries SAFA
Let me quickly share with you, an instructive news piece that I saw in last Tuesdayâ€™s issue of Complete Sports, entitled SAFA QUERIED.
SAFA is the South African Football Association. The querying is to be done by the South African Parliament. Permit me to reproduce that story in detail here. â€œ Parliament is set to grill the South AfricanFootball Associationâ€™s top brass on how the body plans to spend its R1billion wind fall from FIFA especially in developing the game in the country.
â€œ ANC member of parliament and chairman of the National Asembly Sports and recreation committee Butana Komphela confirmed on Sunday they would be meeting football bosses Tuesday to question them about plans for soccer development for which some of the millions are earmarkedâ€¦â€¦..
â€œSAFA President Kirsten Nematandari said most of the money would be pumped into soccer development, but MPs will also be asking questions about the size and number of bonuses to be dished out
â€œKomphela said it was important that SAFAÂ start with soccer development to ensure the country built on the success of the world cup. SAFA needed to focus on establishing strong junior soccer teams,â€Â he said
â€œ What we want from SAFA is development. Those junior teams are the feeder to the national team. SAFA must be clear when it talks to us about those things.
â€œThey must show us their plan in terms of how this wind fall will benefit the entire South Africaâ€ It has been a week since I read the story above quoted and I must be very very disappointed that SAFA has not run to Zurich to report the country to FIFA. I am equally disappointed that FIFA has not descended on South Africa for interference. By now, I am sure you have gotten my drift.
That IAAF Junior Championship
Everyday, or is it night?, I stay awake to watch the IAAF World Junior Championship in Canada and end up sleeping badly. Few minutes to midnight, thanks to Supersport, I tune in to live broadcast of the afternoon events and am always delighted by the quality of youngsters on display.
Thursday night I saw Kenyaâ€™s Caleb Ndiku sprinting to gold in the 1500 metres men in grand style and I wondered where the Nigerian athletes were.
Friday morning I called athletics buff Dare Esan to enquire about our team. He informed that we had a silver in the 400metres girls through Margaret Etim and that was all we were likely to have.
Why? I asked. â€œ quality â€œ he replied. â€œ we do not have enough qualityâ€ those youth I saw in Canada 16, 17, 18 years olds can be found in our universities but how do we get them out? Do we have inter university competitions?
See you next week