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AFCON qualifier: NFF can’t clear official match balls for three months

*Technical gaffe is so expensive, disgrace to nation

*Who sold Rivers United’s CAF balls?

By Olajide Fashikun

As Nigerians look forward to her national team hosting and trouncing their guests, the South African Bafana Bafana in the Nest of champions today in Uyo, it is authoritative that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has for the past three months not been able to clear the official match balls!

Despite last minute efforts to convince the clearing agent to release some of the balls for this match, it was unsuccessful and we can reveal further that the match may be played with some other balls not the official match balls for the World Cup qualifier.

Our checks revealed that less than 12 hours to the match, it was just not possible to clear the balls. All entreaties to the agent that he would collect his money on Tuesday if he can release the balls fell on deaf ears. The man held to his guns saying if they can’t come to clear the balls in the last three months where will they get the money to pay him on Tuesday.

“This is a most unforgiveable disgrace to the nation. This is sad. This is a slap on the image of our nation. Why is it that the NFF will always swaddle in one scandal or the other? Balls that had been in Lagos in the last three months and they claim they are so broke to clear the ball? I can’t imagine this is true but it is very true,” said a member of the board when accosted.

However, the 100 match balls given to Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt for their participation in this year’s Confederation Cup by Africa’s football governing body, CAF, is missing.

CAF had dispatched the 100 balls to the club since about two months. The continental body dispatched the balls to the federations of the 16 teams that made it to the group phase of the Confederation Cup.

www.gongnews.net checks revealed that Rivers United’s consignment, comprising 100 match balls, was dispatched in the name of a Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) top official just a day after the group draws were held in Cairo, Egypt, on 26th April.

However, a further check on a Rivers United official, who pleaded anonymity said, “surprisingly, the Pride of Rivers are yet to take delivery of their own consignment, forcing the team to honour their three first round matches without having to train with the official CAF match balls once.

“Every competition has its officially approved official match balls. It applies to FIFA, UEFA, CAF and even domestic league organisers. During the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup, the official match ball was named Jabulani. Our domestic NPFL league has its own approved match ball but unfortunately, while our group opponents have taken delivery of their CAF approved match balls and have been training with them, we are yet to receive our own consignment not to talk of training with them. We don’t know what is happening that NFF are yet to deliver the balls to us so that we can train and play with them.”

Rivers United’s Technical Manager, Stanley Eguma said it was very unfortunate that two months after CAF gave out the balls and other items to all the 16 participating clubs, his team were yet to receive theirs through the national association.

“It is sad that we find ourselves in this situation,” Eguma lamented. “Could this be sabotage, I don’t know but it is affecting us. “The players have not had the opportunity of training with the ball to know how it is and all that,” he said.

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