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Eagles Want Answers

Nanma Keita/Twenty Ten

Location: Abuja, Nigeria

Reaction to a probe into the Nigerian Football Federation.

Associated features: African Misery(Text Article) Chaos in Nigerian Camp(Text Article) La Fédération Nigériane de Football (French text feature) Nigeria vs. North Korea (Photo Feature) Incurable Optimism (Text Feature) Power Struggles (Text Feature)

Nigerians are still struggling to come to terms with their premature exit from the group stage of the first-ever FIFA World Cup on Africa soil. The Super Eagles picked up just one point from three Group B matches, losing to Argentina and Greece, while sharing the spoils with South Korea before crashing out with the unenviable World Cup record of eight straight matches without a win since June 1998.

The setback appears to have thrown Nigeria football into further disarray, with the federal government, the main financer of the team, set to dig deep for answers to the Super Eagles misery in South Africa.

The country’s legislative body, the National Assembly, has set the wheels in motion for a probe into the national football set-up in a bid to flush corrupt officials out of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).

The House of Representatives committee chairman for sports, Gbenga Elegbeleye, has confirmed the foul mood of the National Assembly towards the heavily criticized NFF, disclosing to the media that the woeful performance of the Super Eagles has necessitated a thorough probe of the Glass House.

The chairman commended the die hard spirit of the Black Stars of Ghana, who carry the hopes of Africa into the quarter-finals, stating that Ghana got to the knockout stages because they did not take a short-cut approach to football as far as the World Cup is concerned.

Angry members of the federal parliament who recently returned from South Africa have been expressing views that Nigeria was disgraced enough through the game of football. They say the country must start immediate preparations for rejuvenating the sport in Nigeria. It appears that many are in the support of the government’s plan to probe the NFF.

The former National Sports Commission (NSC) Chairman, Slyvanus Akinwunmi, said a probe of the Nigeria Football body would ensure a thorough cleansing of the soccer house. The former NFF vice-chairman is in full support of the decision of the National Assembly to investigate the Super Eagles shock exit in South Africa.

"I believe the National Assembly is taking the right decision which should be commended. Unless the NFF is cleansed, our football cannot be developed," Akinwunmi affirmed.

Continuing, the former sport administrator, who was at the helm of affairs when the Super Eagles won the 1994 Nations' Cup and subsequently qualified for the USA '94 World Cup declared that the NFF was terribly sick and therefore needed a surgical operation.

A Nigerian journalist, Jennifer Ifeoma Okoye, who also overwhelmingly supports the call to probe the Super Eagles abysmal display in South Africa, said everything was wrong - the players, the manager and the football federation should all be in the firing line.

“They were unfit and not ready - physically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and professionally; and to add insult to injury, they had an incompetent minder, himself another fatso, to chaperon their effort,” she said, referring to the Swede coach Lars Largerback.

Because of the hopeless ‘slow-motion’ performance put up at South Africa 2010 by the Nigeria Eagles, Ifeoma Okoye renamed the Nigeria Eagles, “Baba Ibeji Ostriches!”

According to the disappointed radio journalist-cum-Nigeria faithful, one of the root-causes of the abysmal failure of the team in South Africa is an incompetent coach and she reiterates the earlier call by many Nigerians to have the Swede axed with immediate effect.

Adebayo Soniyi, a Nigeria supporter in Johannesburg, said it was not necessary to be a soccer wizard or soothsayer to intellectually predict the outcome of Nigeria’s elimination in the preliminary rounds, having watched what he described as bunch of too-fat-to-play-football overweight men, heaving around the soccer pitch and panting like a marathon dog.

“It was not if but when they will be eliminated,” he said. “Of course, Coach Lars Lagerback deserves the front page banner for being the incompetent coach who led the Nigerians to their worst international football outing ever. He should be immediately fired since he deserves nothing less.”

“Probing the NFF would be the best decision by the government, for it helps us to get rid of the greedy officials whose selfish actions continue to impede Nigeria’s progress in world football,” he said.

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