NFF Explains Decision
The NFF has parted ways with Nduka Ugbade and his assistants following Nigeria's elimination from the U17 Africa Cup of Nations.
Brila has learnt that their appointments were tied to the progress of the Eaglets at major tournaments. pic.twitter.com/cKZl0SKpSY
— Niyi Busari (@niyi7busari) May 13, 2023
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), through a member, explained the decision to terminate the U17 technical crew's contract.
He explained Nigeria's failure to make it to the U17 FIFA World Cup due to their 1-2 loss to Burkina Faso as one of the reasons. Nigeria traded tackles with Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals of the U17 AFCON Championship in Algeria, with Burkina Faso edging out the Golden Eaglets.
The failure resulted in the technical crews' sacking, which is unwelcomed by Nigerians considering that U23 and CHAN Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf is still at his job as senior coach of the nation's team after failing to qualify two of the country's national teams.
NFF explained, through a member, why Salisu Yusuf's case is different from Ugbade and his crew. NFF mentioned Salisu Yusuf has a written contract with them for a particular time frame, unlike Ugbade and his crew, whose contract solely depended on their qualification for the FIFA U17 World Cup.
NFF also said they are not on salaries but special bonuses tied to qualifying for tournaments, and failure to do so brings the arrangement to an abrupt end.
“Their contract is tied to qualifying for tournaments. That was what we inherited from the Amaju Pinnick-led board. So when you make it to any tournament you get a qualifiers bonus. They are not even on match allowances. It's the same with the U20 and U23 teams. So the moment you fail to make it to a tournament, the contract terminates. The coaching crew are aware of this,” said the NFF spokesperson.
Okocha Expresses Disappointment
In another development, former Super Eagles captain, Augustine Okocha, has expressed sadness over the Golden Eaglets’ inability to qualify for the semifinals of the U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). The loss means that the most successful team in the U17 tournament will not be at the 19th edition of the biennial international men’s youth football competition.
The Former BBC African Footballer of the Year said that the neglect of a credible youth football development programme over the years has contributed to Nigerian football's downfall. Okocha added that for a nation to grow in football, investment is a must in developing youths from the grassroots.
“It is obvious for more than a decade now the football stakeholders have failed to invest in youth football development. The national U17 team used to dominate the cadet championship even in the worst situations. Nations that are serious invest more in their youths to get the best out of them as players. Some individuals who own academies in the country are inexperienced. There is no focused structure to prepare players from the grassroots,” he said.
This article was most recently revised and updated 7 months ago