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NFF, Task Force on Eagles, disaster foreseen

The bone of contention between the two very important bodies is nothing more than the recent resurgence in the performances of the Super Eagles. When…

The bone of contention between the two very important bodies is nothing more than the recent resurgence in the performances of the Super Eagles. When the Eagles played a 1-1 draw against the Irish, there was no serious fuss about it but the moment the team miraculously downed former World champions, France by one nil, the two camps erupted and what we are witnessing today is a tussle for supremacy between two bodies that are supposed to be working harmoniously to ensure that Nigeria’s flag is hoisted at the 2010 World Cup. While the presidential task force led by my big uncle Chief Segun Odegbami has reportedly claimed responsibility for the victory, the football federation is saying it should be given the credit for laying the structures for the revival.  What started like a simple disagreement is degenerating and sooner than later, all hell may be let loose. By the way, both camps are blessed with ex-internationals. While the camp of the team from the glasshouse is led by an ex-international defender, the camp of the Presidential Task Force is managed by an ex-international winger. The winger was so good in his playing days that late ace football commentator, Ernest Okonkwo named him mathematical.

It is disturbing to note that the crisis between the two bodies has escalated at a very wrong time. The most frightening aspect of it is the involvement of the Eagles players. Few hours after they landed in the country after their historic victory over France, the Eagles allegedly went into a closed door meeting and one of their resolutions was to distance themselves from the comments attributed to the member of the presidential task force.  The players through their Captain, Kanu Nwankwo were reported to have condemned the comments credited to Segun Odegbami on the victory over France. When I read the story, I needed no one to tell me that it was mere propaganda. Somebody simply wanted to use the players to return fire for fire. The Kanu I know will not come out to attack and condemn Chief Odegbami in such a manner. If the story was credited to a player like Mikel Obi or Yakubu Aiyegbeni, I wouldn’t have any doubts. So for me, the report was the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau. Well, it is said when fighting a war, one is free to adopt all tactics to win as even morality is usually relegated to the background.

It is rather unfortunate that with few hours to a very crucial match, the players have been dragged into an unnecessary war. The best thing would have been to allow the players and their officials concentrate on the encounter against the Harambee Stars. As it is, the players are torn between the NFF and the presidential task force. While some may be followers of the NFF, others who had always fought the football federation will readily join forces with the task force. The house is indeed divided. The irony of it all is that while the Harambee Stars are sad that they are confronting the Eagles with loads of problems, the NFF and Yar’Adua’s task force are working assiduously to ensure that their team too is not starved of unnecessary distractions.

Personally, when the presidential task force was constituted, I knew there would be problems along the way. I never had any problem with the president’s decision to assist NFF with a task force but I had misgivings with the composition of the committee. When I went through the list, I saw disaster waiting to happen. No doubt, it is a committee made up of very credible and highly connected individuals but my fear was that some of them may in the end attempt to either over step their boundaries or totally undermine the efforts of the men in the glasshouse. Moreover, I needed no seer to tell me the feeling of the big wigs in the house of football. The men in the glass house were not really comfortable with the development but since they had no option, they unanimously accepted the committee as a welcome development. However, in their inner closets, I am sure they garnered courage to remonstrate.

Thus, even when the war started, it never came to me as a surprise because I had envisaged it.  I knew that even if Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Segun Adeniyi fail to publicly claim responsibility for any positive changes in the team, my uncle Chief Segun Odegbami will not fail to do so. The reason is simple. He knows so much about football and he is never satisfied with the way the game is administered in the country. I knew he would sooner than later be on collision course with the NFF. It is rather surprising that our Europe based brother John Fashanu has not added a voice to the altercation. He too is never impressed even as his critics have continually accused him of having cupboard love for Nigerian football.

My appeal to the task force is to take it easy with the NFF. The football authorities no doubt have their weaknesses but to completely deny them of their dues is entirely wrong. Both the NFF and the task force must show respect for each other. Instead of washing their dirty linen in public, members must find ways of resolving their differences without fighting dirty in public.