W/Cup ticket: You need sponsors to keep football alive, Maigari tells NFF

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…Urges NFF to embark on aggressive marketing

Uba Group

Immediate past President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, has charged the Super Eagles not to let down their guards, as they match forward in the quest for qualification for the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia. Maigari, who still has great passion for the round leather game, despite his busy schedule, watches the game from the sidelines. He remains a strong stakeholder in football matter in the country, and his contributions to the development of the game, not only in Nigeria, but in the West African sub-region still attract world recognition.

The Bauchi-born administrator is, however, worried about the financial strength of Nigerian football, revealing that paucity of funds has slowed down many laudable projects since the new executive, led by Amaju Pinnick, took over control of football affairs in the country. Speaking to The Point at the weekend, Maigari urged the NFF to embark on serious marketing strategy to raise enough resources to run football in the country. He said that inadequate funding has been the greatest undoing of the present NFF, stressing that it is improper to be seeking for financial assistance at the last minute to execute major football programmes.

He said, “I have not been talking for a while, but I am much concerned about the funding of Nigerian football. “NFF has a lot of work to do, because money cannot fall from heaven, we need to look for it and make judicious use of it. “I am not excited about the way NFF has been struggling without money, so the board needs to go all out to look for sponsors, especially in this World Cup era. Football needs more resources to stay afloat.”

Recall that the present NFF has been under various verbal attacks from stakeholders over its finances and now needs to strategise and get its acts together. Recently, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, urged the Federal Government to stop funding the Super Eagles towards qualifying the nation for the 2018 World Cup, saying that it is too expensive.
He said money to be saved by government from such withdrawal could be invested to develop the game.
He also said African countries should rather make the Nations’ Cup top priority and not the World Cup. Dalung made his controversial remarks on a radio interview with the Voice of America, Hausa Service. Maigari believed it is high time for football to be financially autonomous to avoid all these condemnations from top government officials.

Lack of enough resources may also have prompted the cancellation of a proposed friendly match between Egypt and Nigeria in January, as the AFCON-bound Pharaohs are not willing to bear all the expenses for the game and have even gone ahead to fix another game with Tunisia for the same time. Speaking on Nigeria’s chances of picking the group B World Cup ticket Maigari, however warned
Super Eagles to do their best to win all the remaining matches in the group. He, however, assured that there was no cause for alarm, as the team, coached by Franco-German, Gernot Rohr, has what it takes to prove their mettle against Cameroon when they lock horns next year in the series.

The Super Eagles now lead Group B with six points from the two matches played so far, and have created a 4-point lead after Zambia forced Cameroon to a 1-1 draw in the group’s other game. Cameroon are now second on the log with two points, while Zambia and Algeria, who have both lost to Nigeria, have one point apiece and are third and fourth respectively. Maigari added, “I am absolutely confident that this team will not disappoint with the games they have played so far.

“Individually and collectively, they are very impressive. We have hungry and determined players, especially, those who are aspiring to play at the highest level of their career. “The technical committee and the coaches are doing the right job. The technical crew knows what to do ahead of the subsequent matches. They should not go to bed after winning just two matches. “They know that there are a lot at stake and I am not afraid because of the calibre of young players in the team.”

He attributed the early elimination of the Falconets from the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea to lack of adequate preparation for the tournament, adding that the team did
not prepare well enough for the competition. He said, “Playing enough friendly matches and getting the team in right frame of mind are part of the game, but the Falconets were not opportuned to get the best preparations and I am not too excited the team crashed out at the group stage. “Now, they should go back to the drawing board and plan ahead to avoid that in future.”

The Falconets won their last group match 2-1 against Spain, but shot themselves in the foot, having conceded heavily in their first game against Japan, which they lost 6-0. In the final group standings, Japan, Spain and Nigeria were all tied on 6 points, but the Falconets were edged out due to their huge goals deficit. With the Flamingos and Falconets failing to hit the mark in their respective tournaments, all hopes now rest on the Super Falcons to salvage something for female football in Nigeria this year. On recent nominations by the Confederation of African Football for Africa’s best, which excluded all Nigerian players, Maigari said there were laid down rules to pick players and if Nigerian players failed to make it through, that means they were not qualified in that category. He added, “CAF has its criteria to select the African Footballer of the Year and we are proud of our players.

They are doing well in their clubs and national team. “As a Nigerian, I may not like it that they are not among the five shortlisted players, but there is nothing I could do about it.” Maigari also lauded the League Management Company for conducting a successful 2015/2016 football season which ended on October 2. The former president of the NFF said that the LMC’s effort toward re-positioning the league was beginning to pay-off. He said, “The LMC has done well; there is improvement in officiating and the kudos for this goes to the LMC.

“The organisation of the league has improved and the league is getting more competitive; this is a good thing and I hope it gets better. “Our league is described as one of the best in Africa, following this resounding success and that is a plus for us; it means the league is on the right path. They have done so well,” He urged the clubs billed to fly Nigeria’s banner at the continental level to gird their loins towards a successful outing.