Ex-Nigerian Internationals plot to present unified candidate ahead of NFF elections

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Some ex-Nigerian internationals have decided to come together to present a candidate to contest for the presidency of the Nigerian Football Association.

Their decision was announced earlier on Wednesday to local media along with a statement explaining the decision. It is a decision inspired by former Cameroonian international Samuel Eto’o becoming the president of Cameroon’s football association FECAFOOT, and Cote d’ Ivoire legend Didier Drogba contesting for the presidency of the Ivorian football association.

The NFF elections are billed to hold in September when current president Amaju Pinnick’s tenure will elapse. The ex-players union are currently in internal discussions to present their best chance of securing the role and some sources claim that they are already screening some names to present to select the right one to present to Nigerians ahead of the elections.

An excerpt from the statement by the ex-players union reads: “We have watched all these years as some people who are not better qualified than us ex-footballers took charge of the administration of our football and ran it aground. But we have now decided to take over as major stakeholders of the game.

“Aside from the presidency of the NFF, we have also asked our members who are qualified, to turn up and contest other positions in the Executive Committee so that we have men with good knowledge of football on the board of the next NFF.”

Some sources revealed that Daniel Amokachi, Tijani Babangida, Dahiru Sadi and Moses Kpakor were earlier considered prospective candidates, but were eventually discarded as options due to their lack of experience in any roles within Nigerian football under previous NFF administrations.

Some more sources claim that Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha, Abdul Sule, Edema Fuludu, Patrick Paschal and Emmanuel Attah are the new names being vetoed for the role. These men have been involved actively in previous NFF administrations.

Another excerpt of the statement reads: “We shall soon open consultation with the various States’ football associations to sell our candidates for the exalted position of NFF President. We can no longer play second fiddle in a venture that we are the major stakeholders.”

Nigerian players must not go abroad to make it, Sunshine Stars chairman claims

Elsewhere, the chairman of Sunshine Stars Football Club, Prince Babatunde Ogunja, a former Green Eagle, spoke to local media about Nigeria’s current football woes.

Prince Ogunja believes that the NFF has not done enough to provide an atmosphere for Nigerian players to thrive at home and that less and less attention is being paid to the local leagues, which is why players are always seeking to play abroad.

He said: “Talking about players, the belief is that when most of these exports make their clubs’ lineups, no local player can displace them,” he said. “Think of Tunji Banjo, think of John Chiedozie, they came from clubs in Britain to play for Nigeria.

“That was the time we started mixing the exports [the overseas-based players] with the local players. There were two of them. So the primary aim of our players here became going abroad, but it should not be so.

“Players who excelled without playing professional football abroad, like Muda Lawal, Segun Odegbami, myself, were good enough to play overseas. The likes of Christian Chukwu, the likes of Emma Okala, the likes of Arthur Ebunam, the likes of Adokie Amiesimaka – they were good enough to play professional football abroad, but they chose to play at home and they excelled.

“Segun [Odegbami] was the third-best footballer in Africa at a time in 1976. Look at other African football big names; Roger Milla, and George Weah who later became the world’s best footballer. So they said charity begins at home. If you are at home, you can still perform, you mustn’t go abroad to make it. I don’t buy such idea.”

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

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