A former Director-General of the National Sports Commission, Gbenga Elegbeleye, has called for a thorough examination of football administration in Nigeria as a response to the national teams’ dwindling fortunes.
Elegbeleye told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday.
“Age-grade and women’s football have always been our strength and we particularly do well in those tournaments. But here we are not booking qualification for international age-grade and women’s competition,“he said.
He alleged that football administrators these days bring in their clients, cronies and kinsmen to manage the affairs of the country`s national teams.
“I am not happy about the tragedy that befell our national teams this year,” he said.
NAN reports that the most recent football under-performance by Nigeria came when five-time champions, the Golden Eaglets, failed to go beyond the round of 16 at the U-17 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Before then, the home-based Super Eagles also failed to qualify for the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in Cameroon in January 2020.
The national U-23 team, the Olympic Eagles, also failed to book a Tokyo 2020 ticket, as they could not go beyond the group stage at U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.
The women’s national teams haven’t fared better either. The Super Falcons didn’t qualify for the Olympics, as they were beaten to the ticket by Cote D’Ivoire in Oct.
Elegbeleye, who was a member of the 2011 Ministerial Committee on Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria, said only a careful and complete overhaul of the system would curtail further underachievement.
Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, had on Monday met with the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
The minister demanded a written explanation over the “dismal” exit of the country’s teams from four football tournaments.
But Elegbeleye stated that the minister should go beyond demanding an explanation.
“We need a complete overhauling of football administration in Nigeria.
“With all due respect to the current board of the NFF – I do not have any problem with the board – football is not Nollywood.
“It takes effective and efficient football administration to deliver success in every aspect of the football value chain.
“Football matches are won on the pitch by players through the input of the technical crew, but football successes are engineered and recorded in the boardroom.
“We need to sit up and tell ourselves some hard truth that football is not a showbiz. Grandstanding and showmanship can’t earn us success in the game,” he said.
He, however acknowledged that the men’s senior national team, the Super Eagles, were at the heart of whatever went well for Nigerian football in 2019.
“Yes, the Super Eagles are about the only success story in Nigerian football this year.
“They got to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations and have so far recorded 100 per cent success rate in the 2021 qualifiers.
“However, they have only played Benin Republic and Lesotho.
“For me, their true test comes when they play fellow African powerhouses such as Senegal, Ghana and Algeria. Benin and Lesotho victories are routine,” he said. (NAN)