By MONICA IHEAKAM
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has lodged an official complaint to CAF over the poor officiating and treatment they received during the U-17 AFCON qualifier in Niger.Five-time world champions, Golden Eaglets of Nigeria failed to progress to the final round of qualifiers for the 2017 Africa U17 Cup of Nations after losing 1-3 to the Junior Menas of Niger Republic in Niamey on Saturday.
NFF general secretary Mohammed Sanusi said the officiating left much to be desired and everything was done to frustrate the Nigerian continent to Niamey.
“I’m personally worried and Nigeria Football Federation is worried and we are going to lay an official complaint,” said Sanusi.
“There was more to what we saw here in Niamey from these officials. This, I believe, was why they seized our camera. Look at the penalty awarded against us by the referee; where did that come from? There was nothing close to being a penalty kick in that situation.
“Even the free kick that was given during the prolonged time-added-on time was strange. The referee was making foul calls on all the moves we made. I have never seen this kind of humiliation and officiating.”
It was a highly charged encounter full of drama more on the stands as the Nigeriens in the full glare of security threw caution to the wind as they wrestled and seized the Video Camera of NFF staff, Mallam Munir Tijjani Shittu as per NTA.
The NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi was not spared either in the VIP Box as he was badly assaulted, even in the presence of Nigeria Diplomatic officials led by Ambassador Abduljelil Sulaiman.
Striker Sidibe Assoumanu gave the host the lead in the 36th minute with a pile drive just outside the box that beat a poorly positioned goalkeeper Adeleye Adebayo.
Usman Musa Babalolo meanwhile got the equalizer with a header barely a minute to the end of first half. The second half began with much drama as the Cameroonian referee Henry Duvalier Mouandjou Kalla gave the host a freaky penalty in the 48th minute, which was converted by Mamane Bello.
From then, it looked like Mountain Everest for the Eaglets to climb with repeated foul calls by the referee.
With minutes left to play, the host got yet another funny free kick just outside the box which was converted by Issaka Magaji.
“This is a daylight robbery and cannot be defined in any other way because all the officials worked jointly and fully against Nigeria,” lamented Golden Eaglets’ assistant coach Nduka Ugbade.
“What would the Nigeriens and the officials of the match be teaching their kids at home? In all my life in football, I have never seen this kind of drama but Nigerians would not be able to see the match as all our cameras were seized.”