By Paul Bassey
The headline carried by Complete Sports newspaper yesterday was very appealing. Cash rain for Malawi to beat Eagles.
The story said the Malawi Flames welfare package will be improved by “hundred percent “ before their all important 2014 World Cup qualifier against Nigeria in September.
The story quoted Suzgo Nyirenda the General Secretary of the Football Association of Malawi ( FAM ) as saying further that a proposal has been sent to the National Sports Council to up the winning bonus from K 30,000 to K100,000 while the daily camp allowance will be moved from $50 dollars a day to $75 dollars a day.
From investigation, Malawi Kwasha 330, equals one dollar, so by simple arithmetic, efforts are on to pay the Malawians $300 dollars (Yes three hundred dollars) as winning bonus for them to beat the Super Eagles! Don’t laugh. I wonder whether the Eagles are reading this.
Let us move from there to Zambia, host of the ongoing Council of South African Football Associations (COSAFA) Senior Challenge competition. As you are reading this, I am not sure Coach Keshi has left for Zambia, but that is where he should be.
COSAFA embraces Zambia, South Africa, Angola, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho etc. In Zambia, Coach Keshi with or any of his assistants will not only have the opportunity of watching Malawi at close quarters but will also benefit a sneak preview of South Africa and Zambia, two countries we are likely to face in the decisive round of the World Cup if they make it out of their groups.
Before we get back to Football, let us punctuate the stories with that of a young man called Divine Ejowokoghene Oduduru. “ Africa’s fastest youth” I repeat that one of the best things to happen to our sports was the African Junior Athletics Championship hosted by AFN in Delta State and won by Nigeria, dusting all the Kenyans, Ethiopians and South Africans of the of world track and field. I gave the Federation Kudos for it and prayed others to emulate same.
After that championship, I got to read a lot of rave reviews about the champions of that event. A particular coach could have taken a full page advert in a newspaper to gloat over his discovery of Oduduru, who he swore was Usain Bolt personified.
Off we went to the IAAF World Youth Championship in Donetsk and stories filtered out that did no credit to my great expectations of a medals haul. What of the “great” Oduduru ? That he failed to even qualify for the 100m final but was ready to make amends in the 200m by blowing the opposition to smithereens.
Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of watching Oduduru in the 200m final. What a disappointment, coming in 6th with a time of 21.37 seconds in the race won by Jamaica’s Michael Ohara in 20.63 seconds. In the words of my wife, “ Why is he so thick and stiff?” Was Warri a fluke? How come other Africa countries we dusted were winning medals with ease? (Including Nigerian born Ketira Orji of the US who leapt 6.39 in the Long Jump girls). In the Boys medley relay final we blundered to 7th position.
Felt so bad on Sunday listening to the Kenyan and Ethiopian anthems again and again, watching their athletes mounting the victory rostrum so often (In the 3000m steeplechase girls, it was all African affair) Kenya placed second on the overall medals tables with eleven medals including four gold. Ethiopia had eight medals, South Africa two, while Egypt and Morocco also appeared on the medals table. No Nigeria.
Pray, do we need a probe to find out what happened in Warri and Donetsk?
Talking about probes, after reading Adokiye, Odegbami, Christian Okpara, Pius Ayinor……..I have nothing to add concerning the scandalous 145-0 scoreline that has made us the laughing stock of world football. I have also called on the NFF to probe the strange ouster of Rangers from the CAF Confederation Cup.
Tomorrow, a panel will sit to probe allegations of sell out in the National League, while a panel set up by the NSC to look at the Bonus issue and the Super Eagles embarrassing posture in Namibia is to conclude its sitting by next week.
The NFF reacted swiftly by stepping into the scandalous Nationwide row, but Christian Okpara of the Guardian says “ …..But followers of Nigerian football believe the NFF action could be the prelude to sweeping the matter under the carpet. Their argument is hinged on the Federation’s treatment of previous cases of match fixing including the Lobi Stars versus Sunshine Stars case of last season “ Weighty, very weighty. The NFF must therefore act with dispatch. The current case is without mincing words a national disgrace and we must get to the bottom of it and fast too. NFF is the sole football controlling body in the land. They are to conduct the preliminary investigation and decide to transfer same to either the police or the EFCC as the case may be. Any thing to the contrary will be viewed differently. Ask FIFA.
See you next week