Nigerian clubs' stuttering form in the continent is familiar in its boringness

By Daily Sports on April 11, 2018

Views: 1,033

Enyimba FC of Aba, Nigeria, are the only club from the country who had a decent result in the CAF Confederations Cup final group stage qualifying round.

Akwa United choked 0-2 in Sudan against Al Hila, MFM were schooled by Djoliba of Mali in Lagos in a tie that ended 2-1 in favor of the visitors.

Plateau United, defending champions of the Nigerian Premier league managed a slim 2-1 win over visiting USM Algiers of Algeria.

Needless to say, these results, apart from the Enyimba away draw, put the Nigerian teams on the cusp of elimination from the second tier of Africa’s club competitions.

Earlier, the two Nigerian representatives in the elite CAF Champions league, Plateau United and MFM were bundled out in the second round of qualifiers for that competition and both of them are finding making it to the group stages of the second biggest African club competition  a near impossibility.

This is downright embarrassing for Nigeria. But there’s more than a tinge of a familiar ring to this.

The thing we have come to accept, except for those living in denial, is that the Nigerian league is not good enough for the best Africa has to offer.

There will continue to be disappointments for Nigerian clubs featuring in the continent when our league’s organisation continues to be below par.

There will be disappointments when the issue of league pitches in the local league is not given the proper attention it needs. To develop good players and good football, sports facilities have to be at an appreciable level where players can show their real stuff.

Last year, I wrote on this platform about how unimpressed I was watching Plateau United play the final match of last season when they beat visiting Rangers if Enugu 2-0.

The atrocious Rwang Pam, Jos Stadium pitch of the Plateau United team made watching the game a big drag for me. It didn’t come as a surprise to learn that CAF didn’t allow the stadium to host continental matches.

Nigerian clubs will continue to struggle when the quality of officiating in the Nigerian league continues to border on the heavily suspicious.

A situation where home teams continue to take care of the indemnities of match officials inevitably leads to compromised officials and a plethora of home wins every week and the consequence is unworthy clubs filing out to play in the continent and getting brushed aside by better prepared clubs in the continent.

Nigerian clubs will continue to struggle in African until clubs get their acts together and manage themselves in a more professional manner as regards how they treat their players who are supposed to be the major actors of the local game. There’s money within the local league system that is sufficient to running clubs better by paying players well and when due. Employees should enjoy the benefit of their labour and shouldn’t suffer in the vain hope that someday they will get what they are due after lengthy delays.

The best players will keep wanting to leave the league and the country without giving their best to the local football scene when they are poorly remunerated.

We have seen some improvements in the organisation of the Nigeria Premier League, but the simple fact is such developments have not gone far enough to translate to success for Nigerian clubs in the continent.

The will to definitively change things for the better demands courage and clarity of ideas. I believe there are capable people who can make things work better and my wish is that somehow such persons turn up in good numbers someday soon to turn things around for Nigerian club football.

Source Daily Sports

Posted April 11, 2018

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