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Sports Features of Saturday, 16 July 2011

Source: The Nation

Ghana’s Priceless victory over Nigeria

By Prof. Emmanuel Ojeme

When two teams engage each other in a football encounter, both work for victory. That was what happened in Kumasi, Ghana. When Nigeria Under-23 team played against the Black Meteors, we lost 2-0 and also lost the qualification in the football event of the All Africa Games. This same Ghanaian team took Nigeria out of the 2007 Algiers games. Losing to Ghana always brings back sad memories of the difficulty Nigeria has playing against Ghana in football and a few other sports. For how long will this continue?

The outcome of the all Africa games football qualifier should drive it home to the Nigerian football officers that our image is severely hurt when things like this happen. Hence, there should be some more discreet approach in recruiting its membership and in planning because of its role in society.

There is an age-long rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana in football. Hence, going to Ghana to engage any of their teams should come with extra determination. The drama that played out at the Kumasi stadium during training, shows that Ghana officers took the game as war. I made this point in this column last week and yet our people behaved as if it was a tea party. They complained of juju. They seem not to have prepared sufficiently for the challenge. Our football teams must stop losing to Ghanaian teams. This is the task the NFF must accomplish. Having lost the game, principal officers of the NFF were very apologetic. Statements aimed at reconstruction of the team rented the air; another officer said, ‘we do not have a team’, while the coach said the Ghanaians were a better team. It also means that we did not prepare well enough for the cracker and so, we failed to qualify.

The football house seems to be a very noisy place. It is perpetually in conflict with itself and others It is in conflict with the Nigerian Premier League. In the midst of all this, concentration on the job suffers and a free fall in performance of our teams ensues.

You will recall that the Black Queens of Ghana had earlier eliminated the Falcons from the football event of the All Africa Games, and I am sure that the outcome of last Sunday’s game must have resulted in a bigger celebration, over the routing of Nigerian teams.

Having been eliminated by one country in both male and female teams of the All Africa Games, it must be time for very serious reflection in the football house. Many questions need to be asked. Why was the game not on television? How does NFF appoint its coaches? Is it performance based? Who takes care of player fitness and what is the role of the technical committee and its array of retired footballers? Who controls the NFF and is it in our interest for us to continue to put up with an organization that acts on our behalf and yet we have no authority over its actions which sometimes hurt our psyche such as this double elimination of our male and female soccer teams from the All Africa Games? What is the ideological base of football in Nigeria? Does the NFF have a football vision and football policy? Has NFF domesticated Nigerian vision 20;20;20; and the National Sports Development Policy?

I dare say that until we productively and practically respond to these questions, our football teams may not be able to give us the performance we deserve and desire on the field of play. May we never again, suffer the humiliation of Ghanaian football teams.