Former Nigeria coach Adegboye Onigbinde has backed the Nigeria Football Federation’s decision to probe the circumstances leading to the sanction imposed on the country by FIFA for fielding an ineligible player for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria in Constantine on November 10.
The world football governing body on Tuesday docked Nigeria three points and awarded the game, which ended 1-1 draw, in favour of the Desert Foxes for fielding Shehu Abdullahi, who was ineligible for the clash. FIFA also fined the NFF N2m for the development. Cyprus-based defender Abdullahi was supposed to miss the match after he was booked during the qualifiers against Swaziland and Zambia.
However, FIFA’s sanction does not affect the Super Eagles’ Russia 2018 World Cup qualification as they had already grabbed their ticket before the Constantine game.
The NFF president Amaju Pinnick has vowed to punish those responsible for the embarrassment.
Onigbinde, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone on Wednesday, backed the move.
The former FIFA instructor said such an incident could have caused the country a big embarrassment if the team had not qualified for the World Cup before the Algeria match.
Onigbinde said, “The probe by the NFF into that disgraceful incident should be welcomed. I commend the president for taking that decision because in more developed countries, people who were responsible for such mistakes would have been sacked.
“After the culprits are unearthed, they should be punished to forestall a recurrence of such in the future, because the federation needs to avoid a repeat of this.
“But this is Nigeria where things happen and they are allowed to pass without being looked into. Such an incident is a big embarrassment to Nigerian football because some people failed to do their jobs.”
The former Shooting Stars manager added, “I have said many times that the problem of Nigerian football is more of administration than technical. Some ignorant people out there are blaming the coach and the player for failing to note that the player was not eligible for the match.
“The coach couldn’t have remembered that because it was someone’s job in the administrative department of the team to note the players with yellow and red cards and notify the coach.
“If Nigeria had not qualified for the World Cup before that match, the nearest team (Zambia) would have benefited from the players’ hard work because of someone’s negligence.
“It is in Nigeria that people forget match balls while some others forget players’ passports while travelling for matches. These scenarios are embarrassing and until someone is punished, we may have more of such occurrences.”
The Nigeria Football Federation on Wednesday set up a four-man panel headed by the NFF 1st vice-president Seyi Akinwunmi to investigate the circumstances surrounding FIFA’s decision to sanction the country for fielding an ineligible player Shehu Abdullahi in the last Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Algeria in Constantine on November 10.
The world body docked Nigeria three points and awarded the game, which ended 1-1 draw, in favour of the Desert Foxes. FIFA also fined the NFF 6,000 Swiss Francs over the development.
According to FIFA, the player was supposed to serve a one-match automatic suspension imposed on him after receiving a caution in two separate matches during the qualifiers.
The NFF also listed Ibrahim Gusau, Felix Anyansi-Agwu and the Sokoto State Football Association chairman Mohammed Saidu as members of the probe panel.
“The ommittee has two weeks to submit its report. It will have the responsibility of thoroughly investigating how the slip-up came about and those who were responsible, recommend appropriate sanctions and also make other recommendations that will forestall this kind of error in the future,” the NFF president Amaju Pinnick was quoted as saying in a statement by the NFF on Wednesday.
Pinnick also urged the legal department of the federation to work with the legal committee to ensure the enforcement of the Code of Conduct enshrined in the contract of all coaches, and directed that a separate document be developed to be signed by the coach and team administrator of every national team embarking on any assignment.
He added that the NFF would visit any violation of the code with stiff sanctions as enshrined in the code and the coaches’ contracts.