Former Nigerian football don explains losses incurred by World Cup miss

A former secretary of the Nigerian football governing body, Dr. Tijani Yusuf, has spoken out about the losses which the country has suffered as a result of missing out on the World Cup.

Nigeria played out a tame 1-1 aggregate draw with Ghana over two legs to hand Ghana the ticket to Qatar. The Super Eagles failed to get a precious away goal in Kumasi in the first leg, leaving it all to chance which Ghana took by scoring first in the tie and holding on for a draw to qualify on away goals.

Fans and football figures in and outside the country are still expressing their displeasure almost a week after the match, while the Super Eagles and the Nigerian Football Federation keep apologising for the disappointment.

The whole technical team of the Super Eagles have since been dismissed from duty, but the leadership of the NFF still remains, to the chagrin of many fans who continue to call for an overhaul of Nigeria's football leadership.

Dr. Yusuf, who was secretary of the NFF when it was still christened ‘Nigerian Football Association (NFA)', spoke in an interview with local media on the recent happenings.

Dr. Yusuf also spoke about the cost of the qualifiers campaign and the losses the federation acquired on behalf of the sports ministry of the country due to their failure to get Nigeria to the World Cup. He also insisted that every stakeholder involved has something to lose from the failed qualification bid 

“The loss is enormous,” Dr. Yusuf, who is now a senior lecturer at Bayern University, Kano State, said to the journalists who interviewed him.

“To start with, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) itself has lost billions of naira that would have come to it from FIFA. Secondly, Nigeria’s ranking by FIFA would have gone up.

“Thirdly, the players themselves are the biggest losers because apart from missing the World Cup showpiece, their individual ranking won’t improve. Then we talk about Nigerians who were warming up to hit Qatar for the World Cup. It is a huge loss.”

Dr. Yusuf also spoke about the reluctance of the NFF leadership to step aside after failing on two very important fronts in 2022 alone – the African Cup of Nations and the World Cup qualifiers.

“Like Distinguished Senator Orji Uzor Kalu said, they should all resign,” the former NFA secretary added.

“This is the time for the government to step in. In a normal situation, the first person who should have tendered his resignation honourably is the NFF president. If it were in other climes, Pinnick should have resigned immediately.

“But in Nigeria, people don’t resign; they are pushed out by force. I expect him to resign together with his board members; he has done his best, but it is not good enough so let him resign immediately.”

Nigeria, however, have moved up two places in the FIFA rankings after the failed bid, going from 32nd to 30th. In Africa, the Super Eagles are now the third strongest team, moving up from fifth to third place.

They will be in action next in June, when the 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifiers begin.

This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago

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