Onazi’s Super Eagles Invitation Controversy: NFF Stop This Saboteur Act

By Daily Sports Nigeria on 14/03/2022

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You may have been following the controversy that brewed between NFF high command and the interim technical adviser of the Super Eagles, Austin Eguaveon over how Ogenyi Onazi made it to the -32- man provisional team list of the two legged World Cup playoff between Ghana and Nigeria later this Month in Cape Coast and the return leg in Abuja.

If you have been reading Daily Sports (www.dailysportsng.com) it won’t be new story. You may also have seen the blame game that trend the invitation of Onazi into the current list of players to square it up against Ghana Black Stars in a two legged crucial Qatar 2022 coming up later in the Month in Cape Coast, Ghana and Abuja Nigeria.

Not too surprising though, the NFF high command confirmed its involvement by instantly threatening query against Eguaveon for daring to deny the knowledge of his invitation in the public. One striking feature this columnist noted was Eguaveon’s consistency.  He never minced words. However, one is at a loss presently to ascertain if the controversy surrounding how his (Onazi) name made it to the list is still potent but the fact remains that the head of the technical crew was not put into confidence before that grievous error was carried out hence this outburst.

To be honest with you, Ogenyi Onazi was a great defenceman; in short a member of the green horn Super Eagles players late Stephen Keshi led to win the country’s third AFCON football summit in South Africa in 2013. He is Kenneth Omeruo’s teammate 2013 that made history in South Africa their first participation in international competitive tournament. After some beautiful and solid outings with the team including a World Cup outing subsequent handlers of the Super Eagles stopped extending invitation to him reason (s) best known to them.

The once upon a time imaginative  wing back faded away however concentrating in his club side assignments until recently when his name made suddenly and surprisingly reappearance in the recent Super Eagles team that will play against the Black Stars of Ghana later this Month.

The disturbing aspect to though those who are too not familiar with the tricks of some NFF bigwigs over this kind of nonsense would continue to cry wolf on Onazi’s name that developed legs and walked into Super Eagles invited players’ list.

Let me tell some unsuspecting readers of this column that it has been the norm. For instance, you read the first swift reaction of the NFF that came off with threat to the technical adviser for saying it as it was. Truth is that in Nigeria if you dare say the truth, those always wrong doers will call for your head and even go ahead to call you names.

This columnist salutes Augustine Eguaveon’s courage to call the NFF’s bluff of further entrenching the status quo. What the ex-international turned trainer did the applaudable as posited by objective observers, some stakeholders, pundits and book makers who watched as it lasted.

Bluntly put Sports Minister should keep this in view and probe the NFF after we must have qualified for the World Cup in order to put this silly practice to rest by exposing those behind this act no matter  how highly placed in the society. What just happened is capable of stirring off a rebellion of any shade, Nigerian populace and even government would be interested on this matter and then probe deeper how the lad (Onazi) made it into the list. Those that facilitated it and what and what exchanged hands to that effect.     

Methinks that it was one major reason why NFF executive committee did not go further with its earlier purported threat to query Eguaveon. The coach if pushed too far and hard would have spilled the beans. Eguaveon’s position on Onazi was consistent and equally unequivocal too.

You cannot take it away from Augustine Eguaveon being a strong personality right from his playing days in Bendel Insurance FC. He calls spade by its name and ready to face whatever consequences afterwards. It was great he opened up early so that he would not be held responsible if anything goes wrong in the pending World Cup play off.

Of truth is that this columnist thumbs up Eguaveon for exposing this age long practice within the football House. In short, its high level racketeering that has existed in NFF. The syndicates are daring and deadly too. 

My take here is that instead of calling Eguaveon names, NFF if sincere must resort to probing this anomaly despite the fact that they knew it exits. That would be the only honourably path way to go. Nothing would be great and good enough.

If NFF high command is insisting they don’t know how Ogenyi Onazi’s found his way into the list, the way to trend would be to constitute public inquiry which its findings must be made known to these eagerly waiting Nigerians.

I’m saying therefore that NFF and its agents must not do anything that would distract the team from being focused in the game in all its ramifications.  If you like, the upcoming Qatar 2022 World Cup playoffs against Ghana Black Stars are a do or die affair.

After all, NFF and Sports Minister led the path in reassuring Nigerians and brought back confidence into the players and such has been building strongly towards the make or mar encounter. It is unheard of that after such efforts one of the parties, NFF turned around to play Judas. Eguaveon and his colleagues must stamp their feet on ground to block any player that his current form is suspect. 

Below are the facts, what transpired if you did not follow it. It remains disheartening to say the very least. It remains shameful act that NFF that has spare headed the campaign for resounding showing for the Super Eagles right from the first leg in Ghana turned round to allow madness and irony to take over them by encouraging the invitation of a player that the current handlers of the national team knew nothing about his current form in a crucial match like the one at hand between Nigeria and Ghana. What a shame.

Facts are beginning to emerge on how some players got into the Super Eagles’ list through the ‘backdoor’ ahead of the crucial Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Ghana.

The provisional squad released by Technical Adviser, Augustine Eguavoen, last week, was greeted with mixed reaction, with some football analysts accusing Eguavoen of giving some of the invitees ‘undue’ favour.

However, what appears a clearer picture may have emerged, yesterday, through a Ghanaian publication, Ghanasoccernet.
According to Ghanasoccernet, Augustine Eguavoen, revealed that he did not make the decision to recall Onazi to the squad that will play against the Black Stars of Ghana in the final qualifying matches for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The publication alleges that Eguavoen remarked that Onazi’s invitation for the crucial 2022 World Cup playoff against Ghana was to ‘pacify everybody’.

Eguavoen astonishingly revealed that the technical team was not even aware of the form of the Saudi Arabia-based player (Onazi) even though he is part of the 32-man team he named for the two-legged matches.

His claims, reports Ghanasoccernet, suggest that Onazi was imposed on him by persons he did not name, even though the technical team was not keen on calling the Al-Adalah FC midfielder. Onazi is among the seven players on standby list for Super Eagles 32-man team for playoff.

However, his recall has caused massive controversy in Nigeria leaving many Super Eagles’ supporters stunned. Eguavoen has added more fuel to the fire by revealing that he was not the one who made the decision to invite the player. “Onazi, good player. Whether he’s still good and can play at that level, we don’t know,” coach Eguavoen was quoted to have said, indicating that he did not even monitor the player for the call-up. “But that’s why I said to pacify everybody, to ensure there’s harmony here, put him on the standby. While he’s on the standby, I have the final say,” Eguavoen said.

The Super Eagles coach’s revelation shows that people within the federation have been interfering with his call-ups to the national team. It would be recalled that the Super Eagles will travel to Cape Coast, Ghana, to face the Black Stars on March 25, with the return leg billed for March 29 at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja. Keep shooting hard till next week as the struggle to right these wrongs continues!!



Source By Victor Enyinnaya

Posted on March, 14 2022

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