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Football lovers query Salisu’s fitness ahead of U-23 AFCON qualifier

By Gowon Akpodonor
09 September 2022   |   4:06 am
As the countdown to the qualifiers for the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations begins, some Nigerians want the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to sack coach Yusuf Salisu, who failed to qualify the Super Eagles B team for Algeria 2022 CHAN tournament last week in Abuja.

Salisu Yusuf

As the countdown to the qualifiers for the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations begins, some Nigerians want the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to sack coach Yusuf Salisu, who failed to qualify the Super Eagles B team for Algeria 2022 CHAN tournament last week in Abuja.

Salisu, whose Super Eagles B team was eliminated by Ghana’s Black Galaxies in an African Nations Championships CHAN qualifying match on penalties at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, last week, will also lead the U-23 team for 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Morocco.

The first round for 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, a home and away fixture, will hold between September 19 and 27, while the second round matches is scheduled for October 21 to 30. The final round of the qualifying phase will hold between March 20 to 28, 2023.

Some football-loving Nigerians had kicked against the decision by the NFF executive committee, which had earlier this year approved the recommendation of its Technical and Development Sub-Committee for the reappointment of Yusuf Salisu as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles B (CHAN team), as well as the U-23 (Olympics) team.

To them, the re-appointment of Salisu as coach of both the CHAN Eagles and the Olympics team was a clear indication that the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF does not wish the nation’s football well.

On July 24, 2018, Yusuf Salisu was seen accepting a cash gift in a video released by BBC Africa following a series of investigations on the state of football in Africa.

Salisu was said to have accepted bribe after two investigative reporters approached him to include two footballers in his squad to the 2018 African Championship (CHAN).

The NFF ignored the advise by those Nigerians who kicked against Salisu’s re-appointment, and the Super Eagles B team paid the prize last week in Abuja, losing the CHAN ticket to Ghana.

Those who expressed their views on a radio programme monitored in Lagos yesterday were of the opinion that Salisu should not be allowed to handle the U-23 Eagles after failing with the CHAN team.

One of them, who identified himself as Karo said: “This is total madness by the NFF. The business of coaching is about hiring and firing. Since Salisu failed to deliver, I don’t see any reason why the NFF should allow him to continue as coach of the U-23 Eagles after breaking our hearts a few days ago in Abuja as head coach of Super Eagles B team. It is unacceptable in football.”

Another football analyst, who gave his name as Bamidele said: “Salisu should be ashamed and even resign on his own. He got relegated from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with Kano Pillars, failed to qualify Eagles B team for CHAN tournament holding in Algeria, he was in Super Eagles’ technical team with Austin Eguavoen that failed to qualify for Qatar 2022 World Cup. To me, it does not make any sense keeping Salisu as the head coach of the U-23 team.”

Last month, the draw for the 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations held in Cairo, Egypt, with Nigeria drawn to face the winners of the first round fixture between Tanzania and South Sudan.

The competition will be hosted by Morocco in June 2023.