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How Supporters Club distracted Super Eagles

My father’s only surviving sister and my aunty, Mrs Felicia Izamoje, mother of Dr Larry Izamoje, the pioneer of Sports Radio in Nigeria and Africa, always told us that if one urinates on one spot, the urine will foam.

Super Eagles
Super Eagles

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In order words, you have to be focused and consistent to make an impact. On the other hand, if you confront an issue as a body, you are bound to win the war than when you decide to go it individually.

Is that not why the word TEAM, together each achieve more is preached as a motivation for any group aspiring to achieve success?

There was once a united Nigeria Football Supporters Club, NFSC which became so famous around the world that they even got recognition from world’s football governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA.

That was in 1994 when they boosted the Super Eagles’ to a respectable first World Cup in the United States. The club is led by flamboyant businessman, Dr Rafiu Ladipo who, no doubt, changed the profile of the club that made it attractive to sponsors.

Before the World Cup in the USA, the Super Eagles were engaged in a grueling Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia and the Supporters Club were part of the victory both on and off the pitch. I remember as someone who covered the AFCON in Tunisia  how they went spiritual, going to Church to pray and fast when they got the news that the Ivorians were going to employ voodoo against the Eagles in the quarter finals.

However, just like everything Nigerian which doesn’t last long, the cohesion started loosening, especially when Dr Ladipo tried to perpetuate himself as the leader.

Agreed he became the face of the club which caused sponsors and even the federal government to dole out funds to sustain them as members, most of whom were private individuals and businessmen, pulled resources to keep them traveling round the world to boost the Eagles with their melodious soul lifting spiritual songs that attracted FIFA which named them the best in 1994 and awarded the Eagles the most entertaining team that year.

The infighting became intense that Dr Ladipo in agreeing to step aside as National Chairman, created a position for himself by announcing that he was now to be known as the President General, worldwide. With this arrangement, he would be in charge of all Super Eagles engagements outside the country while the national chairman was to be responsible for matches within the country.

That was how a petrol dealer, Alhaji Yusuf Aderenle became the national chairman. His tenure was blighted by the towering stature of Dr Ladipo who was still coming around the club as Nigerians found it difficult to accept the new leadership.

Not too long, a group from the club challenged Ladipo for his overbearing influence on the club and called for a change, more so when Alhaji Aderenle refused to leave the shadows of Dr Ladipo.

The result was the emergence of the Vincent Okumagba faction, known asks Super Eagles Supporters Club which the Ladipo group tried without success to abort before birth.

Matters became worse for the Ladipo group, the original setup known as the Nigeria Football Supporters Club when the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF recognised the Okumagba group and started dealing with them.

During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, both groups found it  difficult obtaining visa for their supporters, as they were accused of submitting so much applications which the Brazilian Embassy suspected were not genuine.

But because of Ladipo’s influence, he was invited by the Brazilian ambassador at that time to defend and or identify who truly were the genuine supporters.

As was expected, Ladipo disowned the Okumagba group who he was short of accusing to be involved in visa racketeering.

And recently another group has broken away from the Okumagba group and goes by the name, Authentic Nigeria Football Supporters Club led by Abayomi Ogunjimi who goes by the alias, Bonfrere.

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