Cyril C. NwokejiFriday, December 21, 2017



he football association of any country, is the fulcrum, on which a country's soccer fortune revolves! No nation can be taken seriously in soccer; and likewise no nation can do well in soccer without a dynamic, effective and functional football association. In other words, the football association is the "Head" /"Brain" of any country's soccer organisation. When that "Head"/ "Brain" does not function effectively, then that country's soccer would certainly be in trouble!

In the case of Nigeria, we have not been consistently blessed with good soccer administrators, over the years. It has always been an "epileptic" case of good soccer administrators, alternating the very bad ones! The good ones try to tilt Nigeria's soccer to higher standards, while the bad ones virtually destroy the efforts made by the good administrators, and also lower Nigeria's soccer to sometimes unimaginatively low levels! This is of course with the usual negative consequences for Nigeria's soccer that sometimes needs some years to get out of.

The fact that Nigeria has only won three nations' cup titles, buttresses this fact of sometimes ineffective soccer administration. Given Nigeria's potentials in soccer, the country should have won the greatest number of nations' cup tournaments; and should be Africa's leader by a wide margin in soccer! But alas, that is not the case. Countries like Egypt and Cameroun, with a greater number of nations' cup titles, are not as endowed as Nigeria, but have done better because of better soccer administration.

A country like Cameroun, rarely uses indigenous coaches for their senior men's national team :"The indomitable Lions". They realise that their indigenous coaches, may not be up to the required standards needed to give them what they want at that level of soccer. This investment in mainly foreign coaches, brings the desired fruits for their football.

Yours sincerely, notwithstanding Cameroun's radical investment in foreign coaches for their senior men's national team, does not advocate a similar form of investment, in foreign coaches for Nigeria. One believes that Nigerian coaches should be given a chance to grow. However, when it comes to the employment and evaluation of the indigenous coaches, one advocates the maintenance of similar standards used in the employment and evaluation of foreign coaches. This also means that the indigenous coaches should also be paid the same salary as their foreign counterparts when engaged.

Following the above pattern of thinking, it speaks for itself, that an NFF chairman cannot unilaterally overrule the NFF board and appoint a coach who came second at an interview process for selection of coaches, apparently for personal reasons! In other words, using the Super Eagles of Nigeria, as a "platform" to resuscitate the fading coaching career of a friend, in the twenty-first century!!!!! A coach who as a consequence of lack of patronage by teams, abandoned coaching for private business. And worse still when that coach exhibits an obvious lack of knowledge of the game at the highest level, this same chairman refuses to bow to the voice of reason to replace this unqualified coach! The concomitant consequence is the certain 'degradation' of the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The question to be asked is: Has that NFF chairman acted in the interest of Nigeria, or has he acted to satisfy a personal/selfish interest, to the detriment of Nigeria's soccer interest?

We have also had NFF Chairmen who cannot take a decision when it matters most! NFF chairmen who pander to sectional/personal interests and as a consequence fail to take an important decision when it matters most. For example an NFF that cannot sack an indigenous coach who has certainly underperformed, for fear of ruffling certain very "important" feathers! This certainly has negative consequences for Nigeria's soccer. The possibility of interference in the NFF's activities, is why FIFA, has given the football associations a "protected" status, from interference by even a country's government. Apparently, some of Nigeria's NFF chairmen don't feel sufficiently protected by FIFA!

Nigeria's soccer is also negatively affected when prospective soccer administrators, "battle" themselves to "death", as a consequence of wanting to lead the NFF, during the NFF elections. We saw this "shameful" and "unpatriotic" development some years ago; as a consequence of their shameful and unpatriotic behaviour, FIFA, nearly banned Nigeria. The erstwhile president of CAF, Alhaji Issa Hayatou, expressed his frustrations at that time over what he considered Nigeria's non-adherence to rules and regulations with regards soccer administration. And asked Nigeria to do some self -reflection if Nigeria wanted to continue to be a member of the world soccer family!

That unfortunate election "imbroglio", contributed significantly to the Super Eagles missing the 2015 and 2017 Nations' cup tournaments!

Luckily, we now have an NFF that is performing. Although the now improved performance of the NFF, was recently blighted by the "blunder" of fielding an unqualified player in the World cup match with Algeria, that nearly cost Nigeria, the world cup ticket! At this time and age of technology, such a mistake cannot be accepted. One is however pleased with the steps so far taken by the NFF, to prevent a future occurrence. Those found wanting should be punished adequately! They nearly caused a national "harakiri".

The present chairman of the NFF, has certainly grown on the job. From the initial unsteady steps noticeable at the initial stages of his presidency, one now sees an NFF chairman that is more pro-active in the way and manner he handles the NFF's responsibilities in conjunction with the NFF board. They should continue in this stead!

The essence of this part of my series of articles, is to emphasise the fact that nowadays, soccer matches are first won in the football association's boardroom, before that victory is translated through the coaches to the players on the field of play! This means that an effective, pro-active and functional NFF; in other words, a "dynamic" NFF, is a "condition sin qua non" for the development and performance of a country's football and by implication, its' national team! Our present and upcoming soccer administrators should get the message!