BY AYOMIDE JAYEOBA
Former junior international, Tajudeen Disu says the inability of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to settle national teams allowances is a tradition that has been in existence for long.
According to Disu, the members of the Flying Eagles team that qualified Nigeria for her first FIFA organised tournament in 1983 in Mexico are yet to be rewarded by the Federal Government despite the then FA responsible for their miserable outing at the tournament.
In a chat with Daily Sunsport, Disu revealed that the then NFA administration scuttled Flying Eagles chances of winning the tournament as they were not rightly treated prior to the championship, adding that till date, the team is yet to receive their rewards.
“We qualified Nigeria for her first ever FIFA organised tournament in 1983.
“The FA officials messed up our chances of winning the Cup when they refused to give us our soccer boots after beating Russia 1-0 in our first match. We were not given our boots before leaving Lagos for Mexico, we even played our first match with old boots.
“But when the new boots arrived, the then secretary of NFA decided to keep them. When we heard about the arrival of the boots we sent our captain the late Ali Jeje to go and collect them, but the secretary refused and told our captain that he will share the boots if we qualify for the quarter-finals and that was how the secretary and other officials demoralised the team.”
He further disclosed that if not for the kind gestures of Philanthropist and Pillar of Sports, Late Chief MKO Abiola who gave most members of the team scholarships to further their studies as they were all school boys then, nothing would have been heard of any of them, “See we are in a country where we don’t appreciate heroes and heroines, we don’t reward hard work at all. The then Federal Government under President Shehu Shagari promised us scholarship to continue our education in America then because 90 per cent of us were still school boys then but he couldn’t fulfil his promise before he was overthrown by the Buhari/Idiagbon regime in December, 1983. And I can tell you that up till today, the Government is yet to fulfil the promise or reward us. And that is why I will always be appreciative of Late MKO Abiola who gave some of us then four years scholarship to further our studies in America” he revealed.
The 1982 AFCON U-20 gold medalist, however suggested that, for Nigerian football to rise again, the corrupt football administrators must be identified and brought to book. “ These cabals must be subdued and dismantled, we need revolution to bring our football to how it used to be, we need real football administrators, we need people who have genuine interest and love for the game and not businessmen whose interest is the money.”