A few days ago I received a
press statement from the media department of the League Management
Company, LMC who run the Nigerian League and it got me wondering.
The statement told that three
players, Afolabi Abdulwaheed of Gombe United, Ayo Saka or Rivers
United and Ogechukwu Leonard of Enyimba had been shortlisted for the
VAT Wonder Goal Award for Match Day 20 and it got me wondering.
This morning I got another
press statement saying Ayo Saka was voted winner of that Wonder Goal
award and my thoughts resumed in full voice.
Do we need a Wonder goal award
as against all the issues of the Nigerian League that need solving?
Of what good is this new
racket to the League. I asked such questions as I read through
the press statement.
The contents of the email from
the League Management Company stated that “The LMC had introduced
the Wonder Goal scheme to reach out to fans and enhance engagement
between the clubs, the fans and the communities. The scheme has now
been renamed VAT Wonder Goal after it was endorsed by the Federal
Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) as a platform to promote tax education
and engage football fans on the necessity and benefits of paying
taxes to government.
But I actually think it is
more than that.
The Nigerian League needs a
jerk up and anything that could give it life like a junkie injecting
heroin is really needed.
It was good to see what
happened when Sikiru Olatunbosun’s goal was nominated for and then
won the CNN goal of the week. More attention was put on the league
that can produce such goals.
I’ve been watching the
Nigerian League weekly since the 80s and I know there are greater
goals scored, most not even captured on television.
I remember Chidi Aluka scoring
for Sharks against Udoji at the then Liberation Stadium in 1993. how
he got the pass from around the 30 yard mark, backing the Udoji goal
and defence.
Controlling the ball with his
right leg and turning at the same time he, he shook off his markers
and seeing the goalkeeper off his line and chipped him from distance.
That was a beauty but it was
never captured on tape and only those who were privileged to be at
the stadium that day can relieve the goal.
I also remember Samson Siasia
scoring against Sharks for Flash Flamingos in 1986 at the Port
Harcourt Temporary Stadium.
Between two defenders at the
center circle a long ball came his way. Using his chest to change the
direction of the ball, he left his two markers for dead, waltzing
between them, he started running towards goal while his perplexed
markers stood transfixed to the spot they were in.
Three seconds later it was
Sharks 0-1 flash Flamingoes. Good thing Felix Beke equalised for
Sharks with another wonder goal to end scores 1-1
Jonathan Zikiye’s pile
driver in 2014 for Dolphins against FC Taraba United in Jalingo is
also ranked up there but the problem had always been that these goals
were hardly ever documented.
We only discuss these goals
because were at the stadium and saw it. Some could be greatly
exaggerated too.
Emem Eduok in October 2014 set
a Nigerian record scoring 6 goals in one game. I doubt if any body,
apart from those who were at the Stadium that day has seen those
goals.
With this new initiative, we
not only document the best goals in the league, we also highlight
them and honour the nest of the lot.
What actually is the point of
the VAT wonder goal? It is what the league needs at this point and
who ever thought about it should be commended and I for one am happy
with the initiative.
Amaju
Pinnick and the photo shoot session
Apparently, Nigeria Football
Federation, NFF president, Amaju Pinnick was in London over the
weekend to watch the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal.
Not many would have known
about it because Nigerians still have lots of problems to contend
with than monitoring who traveled abroad and who did not, but
photographs flooded social media space late on Saturday night that
led to wild debates.
One of the earliest comments
that started the back lash came via a whatsapp forum when a respected
member of the sporting community wrote, “They were in London to
watch English FA Cup but their own FA Cup is close to the grave
waiting for final funeral” and then the arguments began.
Someone said they went to
understudy the way the FA Cup is organised. Hmmm. Then would they
just go sit in the stands for the final? I don’t think they went to
understudy its organisation.
Another wondered why they
would spend Federation funds on the FA Cup final when there are lots
other problems with Nigerian football.
Yet another group, leaving the
crux of the matter, turned the debate into whose funds where used to
travel for the game and social media went full throttle most of
Sunday.
But what does it really matter
if Amaju Pinnick was in London for the FA Cup final with a few other
friends/ members of the Football Federation.
Does it also matter if he used Football Federation funds or his?
I think it was the case of a
few Nigerians who went to London to cheer and encourage their country
men. It just so happened that they were not just ordinary Nigerians
but key stakeholders in Nigerian football.
That game featured some
Nigerians, Victor Moses for Chelsea and Alex Iwobi for Arsenal and
personally I do not see anything wrong with Federation chiefs being
in the stands for a game like that.
However, there is an issue of
timing and perception.
Amaju Pinnick has been accused
before (once or twice by me) of focusing more on diaspora affairs
than what happens within the Federation he heads.
I remember some time in the
past I “accused” him on a social media platform he belonged to of
traveling the world over “begging” footballers with Nigerian
backgrounds to play for the country but doing little or nothing to
encourage those coming out of the ranks in the country.
By encouragement, I meant
visiting top clubs, speaking to top players and all within the
country the same way he visits those abroad.
The group that spoke against
his trip to the UK for the FA final were apparently not happy that
Nigeria has its own FA Cup that has gone moribund with little/ no
hope in sight.
That group would wish the
Federation chief took some time to get his team to revive Nigeria’s
premier football competition. Since Coca Cola backed out about a
decade ago the Nigerian Cup has had no sponsors and it does not seem
like that would change anytime soon.
And again it does not matter
if they used Federation funds or they dug out resources from their
personal coffers, there would have been nothing wrong with that trip.
In fact I believe there was nothing wrong with the trip, but
Nigerians would wish that while those trips are being made to watch
other countries’ Cup finals, the Nigerian Cup final also gets a
revival.
Meanwhile, congratulations
Alex Iwobi for emerging FA champion in England.
I’m sure this time next
week, there will be some other trending topic from Nigerian football
to talk about.

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