Benson Chukwueke Benson Chukwueke Author
Title: NIGERIA FOOTBALL CLUBS LEARN HARSH LESSONS IN CAF CONTINENTAL COMPETITIONS
Author: Benson Chukwueke
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 Nigeria teams were beaten black and blue in the CAF continentals cup competitions. First, it was Kano Pillars that crash out again...


 Nigeria teams were beaten black and blue in the CAF continentals cup competitions. First, it was Kano Pillars that crash out against AS Vita of DR Congo, by aggregate 3 – 4. Though, Pillar won at home 2 -1 but wasn’t enough to cancel the 1 – 3 loss at DR Congo. Then Enyimba came fighting back after losing at home 1 -2 to AS Real Bamako, but was only able to score 0 -1 in Mali and had to crash out by aggregate 2 – 2 on home defeat.

Nigeria fans were so disappointed because they felt that Kano Pillars and Enyimba, Nigeria best clubs in recent years, should have put up  some credible performances in 2014 CAF Champions league.

Well, all eyes turned to CAF cup for a possible redemption of Nigeria’s image. But again, Warri Wolves fluttered to Athletic Club Bizertin of Tunisia by 1 – 2 aggregate. Then Bayelsa United became the only hope, and couldn’t hold its own against How Mine of Zimbabwe, but was beaten home and away on 3 – 1 aggregate.

These dismal performances go on to question the standard of Glo Nigeria Premier League as well as the quality of football clubs in this country. Over the years, Africa continentals’ competitions have continually exposed the low quality of Nigeria football competitions.

One would have thought that after Enyimba won the CAF Champions league back to back in 2003/2004 respectively, more Nigerian clubs should have consolidated on that record. Definitely, something is wrong with Nigeria football.

Wrong Timing of NPL Season: Ibrahim Haruna, Chairman of Kano Pillars said, “The wrong timing of NPL this year cost us the CAF Champions league. My boys hadn’t played real competitive football before the CAF Champions league games. This was because NPL season hadn’t begun then.” “I think this affected most Nigerian teams in this year’s continental competitions. The players weren’t in top shape to compete at that level.”  Hurna concluded.


 Government Ownership of Club: Speaking with Felix Anyasi Agwu, Chairman of Enyimba since 2002, he said, “My experience with Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State was different. He was personally involved in the motivation of the boys. He visited them, motivated both financially and psychologically.”

“Kalu wanted a true International club and insisted we get the best quality players anywhere we can find them, in or outside Nigeria. He sponsored the team to International tours and Enyimba played top clubs like Inter Milan, Ajax, Lyon… These experiences gave the team edge in Africa,” He Recalled. “You see, it all depended on the extent of interest by the present governor and how he wanted to ensure the club gets result in this regard. If he isn’t that interested, then the team begins to suffer.” Anyasi stated.

Poor Planning for CAF Continental Games: Felix Anayi Agwu went on to give reasons why Nigerian clubs didn’t do well in Africa. “Preparing for CAF Champions league games is quite different from NPL games. You must make sure you put all your home advantage to bear.

You have advantage of weather, crowd support and pitch topography. You must find a way to bring all that to bear. It sounds unethical, but if you loose or draw your home game, then you have a difficult task in your hands.

Match Fixing in NPL Affected Club Quality: Kenneth Okpodu, a sports analyst sees it from a different angle: “It is good that Africa continentals are exposing our clubs. You see, instead of our clubs to invest in players and coaches, they rather use the fund to perpetrate some unethical deeds.”

Okpodu continued, “Match fixing harassment of opponent and referees, employing diabolical powers are common knowledge in NPL.  These unethical behaviors lower the quality of Nigerian clubs; and since they couldn’t try such in CAF Competitions, we find our teams unable to compete at the continental level.

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