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Fresh breath, Fresh hope for football officiating

*Celebrating Top Five outstanding referees this season

From Adewale Ajayi

A lot has been said about the performance of Nigerian football referees since the 2016/2017 Nigeria professional football league season began. There have been allegations and counter allegations from journalists, club owners, fans and even the players. After every match day, the media is always caught in the frenzy of yet another bad officiating and with it comes serious backslash, condemnation and what have you for the Nigerian referee.

Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh...on football duty
Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh…on football duty

Amidst the furore and outcries, there are still some very exceptional, young and very vibrant personalities who have distinguished themselves in the face of daunting challenges. They are the future of Nigerian football, the righteous few in the land of so many unrighteous. They hold the key to a better tomorrow for Nigerian football.

Step forward, Habib Gali from Kano state, one of the youngest and finest FIFA badged referees of the Fresh revolution. Sound, strong, agile and fearless, Gali fears no foe. He has a good command of the game, blows his whistle before thinking of who is hurt and comes out after 90 minutes, contented with his decisions.

Ibrahim Musa is also a FIFA badged referee from Katsina state, he is another in a list of the emerging five. Musa doesn’t get easily moved by antics, he is very clever and focused. He reads the game perfectly and takes his decisions without the slightest of intimidation. He stands out as one of the latest discoveries in a short list of outstanding performers. Give him another two years, he will take Africa by storm.

Shuaibu Abdullahi is also FIFA badged. He is from Katsina state, one of many Katsina boys that has made officiating a profession. He officiates with pride. He dances around the pitch and spots every activity inside of the 90 minutes. He cannot be easily intimidated. He does his work without fear or favour. He is one, with a very bright future.

Wale Adeniyi. This Oyo state indigene has only done two matches this season but has left his footprint for history to judge him. He is slim, languish and looks so much like a man that can’t hurt a fly but on the field, he can hurt the hardest defender. He is calm and calculated and has the lion heart. He does his job always with perfection.

Adebimpe Quadri. This 24 year old FIFA badged referee is from Lagos state. He is one of the finest discoveries by NRA president Tade Azeez who alongside Ahmed Yusuf Fresh, have nurtured Quadri into one of Africa’s finest prospects. He is agile, intelligent and very calculative. He sees the offence even before it is committed and blows his whistle without even consulting the lines men. He has already handled a few CAF games and looks poised for more if he stays consistent.

Great souls standing in the fore front: These are the youngest and finest around but there are some others like Ferdinand Udoh, Paul Omuagu, Datong of Plateau state and Sunday Odey of the federal capital territory who have also stood out and written their names in gold. With these men keeping their reputations intact and remaining very consistent, the future is not all gloomy for the beautiful game in Nigeria.

Kudos must go to the chairman of the referees appointment committee Ahmed Yusuf Fresh and the Nigeria Referees Association president Tade Azeez, for remaining calm in the face of criticisms and condemnation, they have shown by these discoveries that a lot of work is being done behind the scene.

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