NFF ‘cabals’ who won’t allow Super Eagles to fly

Super Eagles team captain Mikel Obi and his assistant, Ahmed Musa celebrate victory. The circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of the captainship from Musa is not going down well in some quarters.

Super Eagles team captain Mikel Obi and his assistant, Ahmed Musa celebrate victory. The circumstances surrounding the withdrawal of the captainship from Musa is not going down well in some quarters.

In June 2015, Senator Obinna Joseph Ogba, representing Ebonyi Central Federal Constituency, declared that until the cabals, who are running Nigerian sports, as their private project is broken, there would be no meaningful development in the nation’s sports. Ogba is currently the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports.

“When you have people who have no means of livelihood running our football, there will always be problems because they have nothing to offer in uplifting our sports especially football,” Ogba said then.

“In football, they are only interested in going for competitions instead of developing the game from the grassroots because that is where they will collect estacode. Coaches and administrators are now more interested in the selling of players rather than adhere to the rules and development of the games. Our sports administrators no longer play the politics of the games and that has cost Nigeria a place in the continental and world bodies,” he added.

Ogba, a former NFF board member, promised then that the Senate Committee on Sports would look into the problem facing the nation’s sports, particularly football. That was in June 2015.

Two weeks ago, former Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, made some shocking revelations on why he quit the job.

In particular, Oliseh accused the Technical Committee of the NFF, headed by Chris Green, of imposing players on coaches, including himself.

The chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Chris Green, who wondered when his Committee made moves to impose players on Oliseh, countered the allegation.

Green said then that Oliseh was simply full of too much talk.

However, some events that took place on and off the field in last Friday’s African Nation’s Cup qualifier between the Super Eagles and Pharaohs of Egypt in Kaduna painted a picture of an existing cabal in the NFF glass house.

In less than 24 hours to that the game, news filtered from the Super Eagles camp that CSKA Moscow winger, Ahmed Musa, had been ‘stripped’ of the Super Eagles’ captain’s armband, a decision that shocked many, considering the crucial nature of the game and also what might be the reaction of Musa’s fans in Kaduna.

Oliseh had named Musa captain of the Super Eagles after John Obi Mikel allegedly snubbed the coach during his trip to England in preparation for the AFCON qualifier against Tanzania.

Oliseh had said then that attempt to reach out to Mikel before the Community Shield game between Chelsea and Arsenal were declined by the midfielder. Mikel was subsequently dropped from the game in Tanzania.

One of the State FA Chairmen, who was part of last Friday’s game in Kaduna, told The Guardian at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium before the kick-off of the match that the decision to take the team’s captain’s band from Musa to Mikel was done in ‘bad blood.’

According to him, the change was hurriedly infected by some cabals in the NFF, including a top official of the Technical Committee.

“Not everybody will agree, but we know that there are cabals operating within the NFF,” he said. “We have this crucial match in Kaduna, the home of Ahmed Musa and the ‘cabals’ just came up with a decision to take away the team’s captain’s band from him. Why?” he queried.

Speaking further, the State FA chairman said: “I have it on good authority that the people took the decision just because they feel that Musa was too loyal to Sunday Oliseh. The cabals took the decision even without the knowledge of the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick. Their ‘main man’ in the Technical Committee stamped it and mounted pressure on Coach Samson Siasia to implement it immediately. I agree Mikel came into the Super Eagles before Musa, but must these cabals go to that extent of embarrassing the young man (Ahmed Musa) in front of his people here in Kaduna? You can see the rot\ in our football system. I was told that they only arm twisted Amaju into it. At first, Siasia didn’t want to carry their instruction because of its implication. He felt it was not the right time, but he was forced to do it. That was why Siasia didn’t announce it in Abuja,” he said.

The Guardian learnt that after the decision to change the team’s captain’s arm band was taken, Siasia called Musa after one of their training sessions in Abuja and said: “We have something to discuss in the hotel.

“When they got to the hotel, Musa went to Siasia to remind him of the discussion, but Siasia said he would call him later. He kept postponing the talk thinking that the cabals would see reason why such decision should not be taken at that particular time. As soon as they arrived Kaduna, they (cabals) insisted that Siasia must carry out their instruction. The coach had to summon courage. He told Musa about the changes concerning the team captainship just when they were about to leave the hotel for the press conference on Thursday. Could Siasia have done that ‘rubbish’ to Mikel or the likes of Ambrose Efe, Victor Moses, Oboabona Godfrey and expect them to put in their best the following day?

“In any case, the issue of captainship in a team does not really mean that the oldest player should be the one to get it. A lot of things are involved. The coach may pick his captain based on the character of the player. I am sure that was what informed Oliseh’s decision to settle for Musa.

“Look at the Super Falcons, for example, Evelyn Nwabuoku was named captain by Coach Edwin Okon ahead of veteran players like Perpetua Nkwocha, Precious Dede and Onome Ebi to their AWC in Namibia and the FIFA World Cup in Canada. Nwabuoke is still the team captain and these cabals have not said anything. Austin Okocha, Daniel Amuneke and George Finidi were senior to Sunday Oliseh in Super Eagles, but Oliseh was made captain and heaven did not fall. Why is the case of Ahmed Musa different? I must commend the young man (Musa) for his maturity. I know very well that Mikel wouldn’t have accepted such ‘humiliating’ decision, especially when his family members, friends and fans were looking forward to seeing him lead the Eagles on their home soil,” the source stated.

The Guardian recalls that Mikel openly rejected the captain’s band after Ahmed Musa made an attempt to pass it on to him when he (Musa) was substituted in a friendly game against Congo DR in Belgium in preparation for 2018 World Cup qualifier against Swaziland.

Efforts to speak with the chairman of NFF Technical Committee, Chris Green, on what led to the sudden change could not yield fruit, as he refused to respond to SMS sent to his mobile phone.

However, the Secretary General of the NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, told The Guardian that nobody mounted pressure on Siasia to take the team’s captain’s band from Musa.

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