Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe Dead Rubber Clash, Show of NFF’s Financial Extravagance

Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe Dead Rubber Clash, Show of NFF’s Financial Extravagance

, and Dead Clash, Show of 's Financial Extravagance

Come tomorrow at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, will host and in the final fixture of their qualifier match. In spite of the match being a dead game, with the having already booked their place for the biennial competition slated for Cote D'Ivoire in January next year, the Nigeria Football Federation, , that is known for always complaining of being broke and known for owing players and coaches' allowances and bonuses still went ahead to bring in 19 foreign players rather than using the match to expose a reasonable number of home-based players and some upcoming ones writes Kunle Adewale

when the defeated Sierra Leone 3-2 at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, Monrovia, on June 18, to book their place for next year's African Cup of Nations () slated for Cote D'Ivoire with a game to spare, followers of the game felt the last qualifier match against whom Nigeria had beaten 10-0  in the first leg, would be a good opportunity for the national team Portuguese Head Coach, Jose , and indeed, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, to execute with home-based players and some untested ones as a way of exposing them.

By inviting fewer numbers of foreign-based mixed with home-based players, NFF would have saved a huge amount of dollars the federation spent on tickets to bring the large contingent of these players and back to their base. So, why does a cash-strapped NFF want to kill a mosquito with a sledge hammer?

The same NFF that has severally gone cap in hands to the presidency to seek financial bailouts is now bungling an opportunity to save some precious dollars.

Although on 12 points from their previous five matches, are already guaranteed a place in next year's AFCON finals, they must earn at least a point to be sure of topping the group ahead of second-placed Guinea Bissau, who are on 10 points and are away to Sierra Leone.

In an earlier with THISDAY, Super Eagles assistant coach, George, in support of the outcry by watchers of the game that the Super Eagles last Africa Cup of Nations qualifier dead rubber game against should be prosecuted with players from the Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL, the of Aba sweat merchant expressed that it would not be a bad idea if about seven home-based players are on parade for the game.

“I am of the opinion that these home-based players should be given more opportunities in the national team. It would not be a bad idea if five, six or seven NPL players could join the team for the AFCON proper,” had told THISDAY.

Shockingly, an NFF that is always owing players allowances and bonuses and finds it difficult to pay coaches' salaries, which only managed to pay Super Falcons allowances after much outcry from and the world football governing body, , had gone on to invite 22 foreign professionals out of 23 players to execute a match whose result has little or no impact on Nigeria's qualifier to the biennial showpiece, with 's goalkeeper, Olorunke Ojo, as the only NPFL invited player.

Defending the invitation of large contingent of foreign-based players for a dead rubber match, NFF

President, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau said the forthcoming qualifiers starting later in the year was responsible for the federation to allow invite 22 foreign based players for the Sunday's AFCON qualifier.

“We are looking beyond the AFCON qualifiers, due to the fact that we missed going to the last World Cup finals in Qatar. We cannot afford to miss another edition. Some of the players are coming to the camp for the first time.

“Again, we don't have any other opportunity to assemble the players together for blending. We are therefore using one stone to kill two birds. We are sure we're on the right track for the World Cup and the match is being used to test our readiness” Gusau said.

Interestingly, a former Super Eagles midfielder, Moses Kpakor, has also faulted the decision of Peseiro to exclude home-based players from the squad that will take on Sao Tome and Principe in Uyo tomorrow.

In his reaction to the list of invited players, the former BCC Lions and Abiola Babes star told an Abuja-based newspaper that a match like the one against Sao Tome and Principe should be prosecuted with a mixture of foreign and home-based players.

According to him, Nigeria deserves a standby team at home so when matches come for some of the stars in the NPFL to be tested, they shouldn't be denied such opportunities.

“We have to try and blend the foreign-based with the local players. We have qualified for the next AFCON so home-based players should have been invited to play against Sao Tome and Principe.

“Clemence Westerhof started with gradually and we progressed to form the nucleus of the national team. It was a gradual progress but we were all integrated.

“At least 10 home-based players should have been invited with at least four of them starting against Sao Tome and Principe.

“Teams are allowed to make many substitutions now so even if they don't do well, they can be substituted. It is not good to have only foreign based players in the team,” said Kpakor.

Meanwhile,  Sao Tome and Principe have arrived in the country ahead of the AFCON 2023 clash with Nigeria.

The team, consisting of 21 players, coaches, and officials, arrived at the Victor Attah International Airport on Thursday morning.

The result of the game would not impact Nigeria's qualification chances, as the Super Eagles are among the 15 teams that have qualified for the tournament set to take place in Cote d'Ivoire next year.

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