Friday, June 14, 2013

Nigeria Super Eagles go on strike!, Minister takes case to Presidency

Apparently stung by the national embarrassment that reared its ugly head in far away Windhoek where the Super Eagles are locked in dispute over match bonus with Nigeria Football Federation, Sports Minister and Chairman of National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has stepped into the face-off to prevent the team from boycotting the Confederations Cup.

The bonus row between the Super Eagles players and the Nigeria Football Federation was amicably resolved after both parties agreed to bury the hatchet and let sleeping dogs lie till after the

The African Champions who forced the Brave Warriors of Namibia to a 1 -1 draw on Wednesday to remain on top of their group with nine points were scheduled to fly out of Windhoek to Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon, and be on their way to Sao Paulo. They were to arrive Sao Paulo and connect to Belo Horizonte, venue of their first match of the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament against Tahiti, which comes up on Monday.

Nigerian players pose prior to the 2013 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match Mali vs Nigeria

But none of that happened as the players were adamant to pleas by the Football Federation President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari who explained that the body could not afford to pay $10,000 winning bonus to each player and $5,000 for a draw. Maigari we learnt pleaded that the NFF could only afford $5,000 bonus for a win and $2,500 for a draw. His pleas, however, fell on deaf ears as the revolting players refused to shift ground.

Sports Vanguard gathered that another of the player’s grievances centred on the cutting of the backroom staff of the team, a situation that saw the exit of workaholic assistant coach, Sylvanus Okpalla and Valerie Houdenmou, who coach Stephen Keshi had to employ and pay from his own (Keshi) salary. The players threatened that they would head back to their various clubs if these backroom staffs were not re-called.

We learnt that an embattled NFF President Maigari placed a call to Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi who took the matter to the Presidency to avert a national embarrassment.

And a very reliable source said yesterday that the Minister got additional funds to pay the full bonuses of the players and allow them partake in the Confederations Cup.

“Yes, the Minister got additional funds from the Presidency for the players. We’re making calls to both the NFF and the players to sheath their sword and proceed to Brazil for the Confederations Cup”, the source informed.

Nigeria sit atop Group F with nine points, two more than Malawi’s Flames, whom they confront in Nigeria in the first week of September.

The Eagles need only a draw from that match to reach the 10-nation final elimination round of the African series for 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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