IFFHS RANK NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE THE BEST IN AFRICA 2012: So Why is Nigeria Fans Playing Down the Excitement?

Since International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) published their recent report that ranked Nigeria Premier League (NPL) as the strongest league in Africa and 24th in the world as at July 2012, reactions has been threading that the report doesn’t reflect the true picture of current African football. Even Nigeria fans themselves are not excited at all. From all the reactions I’ve heard on the streets of Lagos, national newspapers and television, many fans are saying there’s nothing to be excited about.

“We’ve known NPL as a big flop,” Say Mancha Yaya, owner of Soccer Watch and acclaimed football analyst in Lagos Nigeria. “It’s even more ridiculous that the ranking came in 2012 where everything has gone wrong and there has been so much wrangling at the leadership level. In fact, football followers in Nigeria would have been more comfortable if NPL was voted the worst league in the world this year.”

Well, the facts and figures on ground reflect something different. IFFHS has said the criteria wasn’t base on organizational excellence or financial power of the league, it was strictly based on performance of a country’s clubs in CAF Competitions. IFFHS assessed the performance of clubs from January 1 to July 10, 2012 and added points. Nigeria amassed 258 points to become the best in Africa. It wasn’t a surprise, if you ask me, since last month Nigeria clubs – Enyimba FC of Aba and Sunshine Stars FC of Akure - were ranked among the top 10 in Africa.

It’s not about NPL performance; the body didn’t do anything to merit such ranking. In fact, they did everything the wrong way. It’s about the potentials of the clubs in Nigeria. We’ve the players and quality coaches. Nigeria’s potentials to be the best in Africa are not in doubt. What is in doubt is the ability of NPL to manage the abundant football resources in the country to deliver a league that would be so pleasing to fans and truly rank among the top 10 in the world.

Yaya said, “There’s nothing fantastic about the ranking and it portend nothing for NPL, since the fans aren’t moved by the report. It sounds more like a fairy tale.” But for me, I think there’s something to be excited about.  If cash strapped NPL, with no sponsors could emerge the best in Africa, then it shows that our clubs can be stronger if the dyke is raised and NPL put their acts together. It does prove that we can have an illustrious football league in Nigeria that can compete with the bests in the world.

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