The people that run Nigerian football, that is the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF really do not like me talking about them.

I have been accused severally of insulting them and especially the president, Aminu Maigari (Pic).

At every turn I thought I may have been out of line I never failed to apologise but it makes me laugh out loud when I think that people who do not want to be spoken about in the negative continue to do things that cause us to talk.

In the last couple of days Nigeria’s Super Eagles have played their next Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia in three different venues.

Of course the head coach of the team, Samson Siasia said he wanted the match played in Lagos and that is why the game against Sierra Leone (the international practice match) was played in Lagos to test run the place.

After that an influential NFF board member said the game against Ethiopia would be played in Kaduna at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium a situation that caused media reports that Samson Siasia would resign if the game is taken outside Lagos.

The same NFF board member then said the game would certainly not take place in Lagos but Abuja or Kaduna and then the NFF president himself said there had been no decision on venue and Lagos remains for the match.

He was also quoted as saying no one person can decide the venue of the match (I believe he was talking about that board member but maybe I’m wrong).

So the Super Eagles will play in Lagos on March 26, 2011; but hold on a while, the NFF say they meet on Monday next week to decide on a venue for the game.

What is so difficult in deciding where a country plays a game? It shouldn’t be difficult especially now that there are close to twenty class stadia in the country and you can just imagine what Nigerians are going through; Nigerians who want to watch the game.

I tried to book tickets online to watch the game against Ethiopia and I had done so for Lagos and was about to confirm the tickets when word spread that the match would be out of Lagos.

I gave it two days and then tried to book tickets for the game in Kaduna. I had my reservations done and was about to confirm when again I heard venue had been moved back to Lagos so again I had to cancel.

You can imagine what people are going through the world over just to watch a game that involves Nigeria.

Even our opponents, Ethiopia cannot make plans for the match because they need to be sure of what international airport they would be landing in-Lagos, Abuja, Kano or Port Harcourt.
Then if we town criers talk about this issue would we be accused once again of always being negative towards issues that concern the Nigeria Football Federation?

Why do we want the venue changed?

But have we even asked why we want the venue of the match changed? There were two reasons given by that NFF board member- he said the attitude of the Lagos fans and the fact that some players (foreign based) complained about the artificial turf.

If these are the only two reasons then it’s a no brainer.

The Lagos fans booed the Super Eagles in the 2nd half of the game when they started playing like the Super Eagles of the past. Remember we had promised them a new team and new attitude.

For the booing alone there is no part of the country that match is played they won’t be booed if they played the way they played in that 2nd half.

And our NFF board members should wake up to the realisation that booing teams has always been part of the game. It happens all over the world.

In the first home game England played after the World Cup, players who featured at the World Cup were booed every time the touched the ball because the fans were still protesting their poor performance.

Even in the saintly Abuja, the Super Eagles were booed from the start of a World Cup qualifying match against Mozambique because the fans were not happy about their performance two weeks earlier against Tunisia.

The head coach of the team, Samson Siasia played for the national team at a time that all games were in Lagos and he is used to the Lagos crowd so I will be surprised if he is complaining too.
Our players should grow up. If you play well we are happy with you and if you don’t, you do not expect us to still be happy with you.

The fans are like paying customers. They pay so much to get tickets to watch these games; they spend so much time at the gates trying to get in because of poor security arrangements and some of them even get beaten up by the police so when they are finally in they expect the best treatment from highly pampered players so they tend to lose it when they do not get quality play.

So now we have established that point that footballers get booed anywhere they play if they do not play well, we must look at the other matter of the playing surface.

If the players really complained that they are not comfortable with the synthetic pitch, should it take us three weeks to decide on a new venue.

Talking about natural grass, how many venues in Nigeria have quality stadia with natural grass?
A few kilometres from Lagos are Ilaro and Shagamu. Quality stadia, natural grass and they each sit 12 000 people, the same as the U. J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar that is also top quality.

The Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna sits 16, 000 people while the national stadium in Abuja has a capacity for 60,000.

If the NFF are bothered about the pitch the Eagles play on, they should have picked one of these four ages ago rather than keep the whole world as well as our Ethiopian opponents in suspense.
Or is it possible that they do these things on purpose just to get in the news? That would be a shame.

Meanwhile, I will still be laughing until we work things out in Nigerian football.


  1. What more is there to add? Other, perhaps, than this: It is the Team Manager's job to determine the choice of home turf for his wards to play on. Unless, perhaps, the NFF have a secret Team Manager other than Samson Siasia. One day, NFF will suffer the fate of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan and other such misruled entities. Happily, FIFA's statutes only protect them from Government, not from the people's wrath! You wait and see.

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