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‘NFF should stop discriminatory treatment of national teams’


The national U-23 team defeated Algeria to win the African U-23 Nations Cup hosted by Senegal.

The national U-23 team defeated Algeria to win the African U-23 Nations Cup hosted by Senegal.

THE year 2015 has been described as one of the best for Nigerian football in terms of trophies, but not many people know what the teams went through to achieve the fantastic results.

Apart from the women national team, which maintained their downward spiral in the game, the male teams, including the national U-17 side, Golden Eaglets, the National U-23 and the Super Eagles, recorded some outstanding victories that forced many pundits to reconsider their belief that the country’s football had lost its mettle.

The Golden Eaglets after a not-too-impressive performance at the African U-17 Championship in Niger Republic early in the year, went to Chile to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup for a record fifth time, while the national U-23 team, the Olympic Eagles, won the African U-23 Nations Cup in Senegal.

Before then, the Super Eagles under a new coach, Sunday Oliseh, had recorded some heart warming wins, including a comprehensive thrashing of old foes, Cameroun, in a friendly game in Belgium. The team is already well-placed in both the African Nations Cup and the World Cup qualifiers. But one of the officials of the national U-23 team believes the country’s teams would have done better if all the sides were treated equally.

Drawing from his experience with the U-23 Eagles, the top official of the team, who pleaded anonymity, said the neglect of the lower teams was impacting negatively on Nigerian football, adding that giving the other teams adequate attention would help build confidence in the players as they moved from one stage to another.

He said: “We won the African U-23 Nations Cup despite all odds. We were treated like orphans and at a time the players thought of going on strike to draw attention to their plight. Their allowances were not paid, while they campaigned for honours for Nigeria with only two sets of jerseys. They washed their jerseys after every game and the idea of exchanging shirts with anybody was completely ruled out. A concerned Nigerian donated training jerseys to the team just so that the team would file for training in the same attires.

“If it were the Super Eagles, the jerseys and other kits would come out. Why can’t the NFF use the same way to source for kits for other teams,” he queried.

Lamenting the many false promises officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the National Sports Commission (NSC), owners of the Olympic team, the source urged administrators to always come clean to athletes to avoid friction that may work against the country.

“When you tell some people that their money is on the way several times and yet they don’t see anything, they will start doubting your motives. It got to a stage when the boys stopped listening to the officials because they felt they were being treated like fools.

“Some of these boys are bread winners of their families. Most of them did not go to Senegal with any money and so they were made to look like orphans when their money did not come.

“The only time they could buy something for themselves was when Coach Samson Siasia gave them $2,100, which they shared $100 each. That was when they could buy credit for their phones and some other things.

“I am not impressed that when the Super Eagles are involved, there will be enough kits for the players and their allowances are paid on time, but when it concerns to other teams nothing seems to be available.”

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