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DON'T KILL OUR JOY IN SOUTH AFRICA

By NBF News
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Save Nigerian Football Group, SNFG, has resolved at its last meeting to express warm appreciation to the Minister of Sports, Mr. Ibrahim Bio, for quickly nipping in the bud what was surely drifting towards raising a huge global dust that would have embarrassed people and government of Nigeria at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The group said it was certain that if not for Bio's timely intervention, those who orchestrated the negotiation of the ill-fated Hampshire Hotel in Durban as Super Eagles' permanent base, would have provoked angry dissentions from the players.

That would have led to all sorts of distractions and unnecessary disruptions in the programme of the team at a time when we sorely need stability, effective use of scarce resources and creative management of our history-seeking football team.

SNFG challenges the minister not only to probe and discipline promptly the people who are implicated in the Hampshire scandal, it is also imperative that the culprits must be surcharged in their personal capacities, for the payment of the penalty ($125,000) arising from the so-called contractual breach. 'While on the same issue of managerial recklessness, we implore the minister to publish the report of the administrative enquiry into the missing $236,000 from the internal safe of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).

'Even as we pray, and enjoin fellow supporters of the game in Nigeria and the Diaspora to pray for a successful outing at the 2010 World Cup, we note with dismay the slipshod preparations that the technical and playing crews of the senior national team have been subjected to, of recent. Every football enthusiast can attest to the following disgraceful shortlist: after the February 28 announcement of Lars Lagerback as Super Eagles' substantive coach, the team has not played a single match under him. The coach selected his pre- provisional list of 44 players using some nebulous and unstated criteria, as he had not spent enough time on the saddle. Sundry reports in Nigerian newspapers have debunked the official line that Lagerback was busy in the interim months visiting potential squad members all across the world.

'The abject preparation continued with the attempt of the NFF to meet FIFA's May 11 deadline for the submission of a 30-man provisional list by conjuring a list of 30-men, some of which the coach publicly admitted he had scant knowledge of. Many questions are agitating the minds of worried fans: how did Lagerback arrive at the 30 names? What roles did the NFF technical committee and the Swede's Nigerian assistants play incompiling that list? Do all these obvious and avoidable fire-brigade antics not portend a tragic end to our national expectation?'

The SNFG is a worldwide alliance of football supporters conjoined by a burning desire to encourage and support credible and competent people (especially ex-footballers) to form the mainstay of the next NFF executive board in its August 2010 national elections. We, therefore, urge people who fit the vision and dynamism that is necessary to positively turn around the current parlous state of our football, to arise, submit themselves for service, scrutiny and posterity.

'We also use this opportunity to congratulate former international and notable administrator, Davidson Owumi, for succeeding Chief Oyuiki Obaseki as the chairman of the Nigerian Football League. We enjoin him to chart a clear and comprehensive course to take the fundamentals of our local leagues to the heights that are truly achievable and accountable. Owumi should concentrate on molding a league superstructure that is mindful of the welfare, growth and attainment of excellence of its primary raw materials - the Nigerian home-groomed footballers.

SNFG also urged the Super Eagles to shun all distractions foisted on them, and gladden the hearts of Nigerians by performing creditably well in South Africa, and use the occasion to thank God for the good repose of our football-loving late president, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar 'Ardua.

The group said that it could only re-emphasize the unique and vital contributions of the patriotic Nigerian sporting media and critical stakeholder groups such as Nigerian Footballers Association of Nigeria, NANF, and thus continue to encourage the body to lead the vanguard of positive and credible change in our football administration, by insisting that henceforth mediocrity, game-switchers and jobbers could no longer dictate the pace and progress of our national game. 'We no longer want to face the ignominy of national teams running away from doing business with us; or the assembling of teams without precise and tested perimeters for selection, and such shambolic desperate shenanigans that have enveloped our football administration. No, we can't!'