Monday, April 5, 2010
A few weeks ago,the world's football governing body had to pronounce a ruling compelling the Nigerian FA to pay former Nigerian National Coach Berti Vogts about $150,000 owed amount.Some shameless FA official was reported by a sports daily to have 'clarified' that the amount was not compensation but some unpaid allowance.Why did the FA need a FIFA pronouncement to pay its former employee his entitlements ? This was a scandalous incident that has further dragged the image of this country into the mud.Yet it was avoidable.Up till a few months ago,ex-coach Christian Chukwu was crying out regularly about his unpaid entitlements from four years ago !
Today,the current Chief Coach of the National Team,Amodu Shaibu has lodged a complaint with the international Court of Arbitration,asking for justice over his unceremonious demotion to the so-called Team B.The man worked his socks off to qualify the country for the World Cup.He will be somewhere in Abuja,Ijebu Ode or Kano knocking our home-based Eagles into shape for the next, next CHAN ,while the FA officials enjoy the limelight in South Africa.
But I said this is not just an FA problem.In the past few weeks since Lars Lagerbach was appointed I have been apalled to read various press comments by several of the prominent soccer gurus that heaped pressure on the FA to remove Amodu just a month earlier.They are now claiming that Lagerbach does not have the time to mould a formidable World Cup team.Of course the FIFA calendar which does not permit any more international match free days before the close of the European season in May had been there since last year.And these same people knew it.The only free day after the Nations Cup (March 3) was deliberately and consciously wasted by Nigeria,and conveniently overlooked by the 'experts'.
Until Adokiye took the ultra-courageous decision to expose our last Under-17 captain,the age-group competitions have been a grand conspiracy between the players,the FA, and soccer fans across the country.Today,Fortune Chukwudi who did nothing to refute Adokiye's allegations of being 29 has been invited to the Under-20 team,and the 'gurus' are ok with it.
One of the major issues used in deriding Amodu was his refusal to take any home-based player to the Nations Cup.Yet the man had made a very honest and factual explanation about the psychological weakness of the home-based players.Thank goodness he was smart enough to book his leave on time,otherwise the disgraceful outing against Niger would have (as usual) been lazily explained away by the legion of radio phone-in callers as yet another manifestation of Amodu's ineptitude.And the NFA would have said 'of course we know'.Even as I write, a lot of otherwise enlightened 'analysts' are still heaping the blame on Daniel Amokachi.Very sad.
And I must state here that my first impressions of Lars Lagerbach himself have been far from impressive.He told us a couple of weeks back that he has submitted a tentative list of players for the World Cup.The names have remained secret ever since.He said he would be announcing his final list of 23 players by mid May.Yet all the friendly matches being mentioned are coming up in late May.On what basis will the final selection be made ? Is this not a re-enactment of Amodu's Durban blunder? Remember too that our players will hardly have any rest between their regular season and the World Cup,because they need the early camping to familiarise themselves with the new coach.In any case,Mr lagerbach has just jumped from about $350,000 a year (according to a respected sports paper) to a massive $1million plus pay check for five months' work,and therefore has every right to see himself as a hercules.No problems:The Super Eagles is my National Team, and I will always support them.
But if Nigerian football is to be revived,we must all have to be far more sincere in our analysis of our present situation.It's not enough to put our heart and soul in the English Premiership and continue to blame every coach for the woes of the Nigerian National Team.On another day,I will share my thoughts on the real problems of Nigerian football.