ENYIMBA PLAYERS THREATEN BOYCOTT
The glorious era of Nigeria's most successful football club, Enyimba International of Aba, is fast heading to an ignominious end if feelers from the camp of the two- time Africa's club champion is anything to go by. The one-time millionaire club that used to be the 'Mecca' of Nigerian footballers during the tenure of the immediate past Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, has been grappling with financial crunch lately.
Players of the club in a distress call to Daily Sunsport, on Tuesday, threatened to boycott Sunday's crucial CAF Champions League match against AS Vita of Congo DR if their sign-on fees and accumulated match bonuses are not paid.
Enyimba needs to score four goals without conceding any to turn the table against the Congolese side has the team has lost the first leg in Kinshasha, Congo 3-0 a fortnight ago. 'It is either we are paid our sign-on fees and match bonuses or we won't play on Sunday. How can we cancel three goals on empty stomach?' one of the angry players (name withheld) fumed.
'We had earlier wanted to boycott the first leg of our CAF Champions League fixture against AS Vita in Congo but the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation) official who accompanied us pleaded with us not to carry out our plan as it could earn the club nothing less than two years ban from continental competition. But this time round, there's no going back' he declared.
'We even wanted to boycott last weekend's league match against Niger Tornadoes but our chairman, Chief Felix Anyansi, pleaded with us not to embark on such action to avoid automatic relegation for the club from the Premier League.
'We don't know who is telling us the truth between the chairman and the governor. The governor had promised to pay us on many occasions without fulfilling his promises. We are tired of empty promises. If they are tired of funding the club, let them disband it or grant us free transfer clearance, so we can go to other clubs to pursue our careers' another aggrieved player said.
'We would have staged a protest march to the Government House as our colleagues in other clubs have done, but we heeded the plea of our chairman not to embarrass the state government, while assuring us that the governor would soon release funds to take care of our sign-on fees and bonuses.
'We have been patient enough. We have families and other dependants to cater for. We have been living like beggers. We can't even concentrate on the challenges at hand. We are doing our best to sustain the reputation of the club despite the difficult situation we are facing. We can no longer continue since our efforts are not appreciated' the players chorused. When contacted, chairman of the club, Chief Felix Anyansi, played down on the development, stressing that Enyimba was not the only club owing its players sign-on fees and bonuses.
'We are aware of the players' grievances. The situation is not peculiar to Enyimba. Other clubs in Nigeria owe their players too. But that is not to say that the government is insensitive to the players' plight. I am aware that His Excellency, Governor Theodore Orji, has assured that funds would soon be released to take care of the sign-on fees and other allowances due to the players and coaches.
We are only asking the players to exercise a little more patience. 'We need all the concentration to overcome AS Vita of Congo on Sunday.
I'm sure we can turn the table against them despite the three goals deficit we incurred from the first leg a fortnight ago in Congo. We have done it many times and we can do it again' Anyasni assured.