Junior World Cup: Why I Won’t Be Sad To See Flying Eagles Fail in Poland

By Dafe Nelson on May 23, 2019

Views: 1,004

Let me blurt it out. I’m not going to be following the Nigerian Under 21-team in the Junior World Cup in Poland which kicks off Thursday (today) with any real excitement because of corruption involved in the players selection.

The present Flying Eagles team coach Paul Aigbogun has been heavily mentioned and accused of receiving bribes from players’ representatives in order for their players to be selected.

I have had my own insider knowledge of the selection process of the present Flying Eagles team and it is really disturbing to hear about the many millions of naira exchanging hands. You can’t help but wonder what the fate is for talented players who can’t really afford to dole out such millions to bribe their way into fame.

An All Nigeria Soccer report just before the Flying Eagles players list was released some days ago read: “...three promising players representing English Premier League clubs in the shape of Manchester City’s Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Everton’s Korede Adedoyin and Watford’s Jayden Bennetts are not in contention to make the 21-man roster, having departed camp last week.

“They have argued that they couldn’t bribe the coaching staff because they spent a lot of money traveling to the training camp and the practice of bribery is alien to England, where they grew up.

“Using the England U20 team as a case study, manager Paul Simpson will give the same opportunity to all the players invited to the national team to prove themselves before dropping players which wasn’t observed by Flying Eagles boss Paul Aigbogun.”

Those who do not find the allegations credible must not have been following Nigerian football in any details or perhaps have been part of the corruption themselves..

We know that a lot of malfeasance occur when players are picked across the different levels of the national team and this is a crying shame. What is the joy of watching a team when majority of its players are there based on how much they have paid and not how well they have played to deserve putting on the Green and White?

The All Nigeria Soccer report goes on to add: “Controversial agent Nureni Makanjuola frolicked with officials of the Flying Eagles when he visited camp and was caught red handed doling out foreign currency to the officials, so it didn’t come as a surprise when his player Success Makanjuola was secretly added to the provisional squad list.”

Do you really wonder why we have never won the Under-21 World Cup when preparations for the tournament are dominated up till the last minutes by the coaches and corrupt high level officials of Nigerian football trying to determine who the highest bidders and most connected players are and not by how the team can fashion out a winning playing pattern.

How much have the Flying Eagles officials invested on opposition scouting? What is the quality of work put in to derive a winning formation at the World Cup? Your guess is as good as mine.

Yes, I am still that patriotic kid who jumped up and down in with my parents, brothers, sisters and neighbours in Benin City as we celebrated wildly Nigeria’s Flying Eagles coming from 0-4 down to equalise and beat Oleg Salenko’s Russia in the Saudi ’89 Under-21 World Cup. But I understand now why we have never managed to win the tournament after using ‘old men’ to bamboozle FIFA and other teams who bring real young and physically short players to the Under-17 World Cup.

As I watched the Nigerian Under-17 team struggle in Tanzania as they narrowly secured qualification for the Junior World Cup scheduled to hold in Brazil later this year, it seemed clearer to me that in this age of stricter use if MRI scans to determine the true ages of players, the party of winning the Under 17 World Cup with ease is over for us now, if we don’t devise a serious strategy that would involve the real modern practices of young players development that would be anchored on best practices devoid of corruption in players selection.

So it is with ambivalence I will be following the Flying Eagles in Poland. I hope they do well and I would be happy, as a Nigerian, if they did. On the other hand, knowing this team is a product of high level corruption, I won’t be sad to see them fail.

•Nelson Dafe is a Senior Correspondent with Daily Sports and News Express online newspapers. Photo shows Flying Eagles Coach Paul Aigbogun

Source Daily Sports

Posted May 23, 2019


 

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