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MOTHER OF ALL MEETINGS

A Cursory Look At NFF/Super Eagles Parley In Russia

●What Eagles May Not Know

By DESMOND EKWUEME

Shortly after Argentina got thoroughly beaten by a hungry, ruthless, fearless, adventurous and youthful Super Eagles, the NFF engaged the team in a crucial meeting to discuss, negotiate and agree on bonuses and allowances among other entitlements for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup preparation and the tournament proper.

The team was represented at the meeting by its senior players led by skipper John Mikel Obi, his vice, Ahmed Musa, Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost Ekong....and the technical crew was represented by Gernot Rohr, his assistant, Salisu Yusuf and team cordinator, Anebi Achor....the NFF was represented by its President, Melvin Amaju Pinnick, his two deputies Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko and of course Ahmed Fresh.

Such meeting is expected given the assignment ahead. Reports suggest that it was a healthy meeting as those present had meaningful and result-oriented deliberations. This implies that we will have a crisis-free World Cup arguably for the first time after USA '94. There will be no complains, no internal wrangling, no ticket, bonus nor allowance war during and after the World Cup. That will really be interesting because, it can only pave way for the boys to focus on the tournament and attempt to cross Nigeria's feat of second round and Africa's achievement of quarter-final. In other words, all things being equal, Super Eagles could get to the semis...and from there, anything, just anything could happen. This is the prayer of every Nigerian, football loving or not.

However, I have my genuine fears about this meeting. Naturally, we Nigerians are good planners but at the same time, we are bad executors or betterstill " bad implementors" (pardon my grammar). We are good at always going to the drawing board to map out or to outline our masterplan and strategies but, why we always return to the same drawing board for belated corrections after monumental failures still beats my imagination. In fact, it is a way of life in our clime to always revisit the drawing board because while planning, we sadly plan to fail. We are not honest in keeping agreements. We don't play by the rules. We love cutting sides, seeking shortcuts and of course shortchanging others. Short and simple!

So before the NFF/Super Eagles return to the drawing board, one must ask some salient questions to avoid a very likely "return journey" to Russia after the World Cup. Yes, a return to Russia because that is where the board for this August, oh sorry, November meeting is. So if there would be a revisit to the drawing board, the entire participants of that meeting will have to go back to Wladimir Putin's country.

It may not really matter where such high profile meeting which Yours Sincerely choose to dub MOTHER OF ALL MEETINGS given its importance holds or was held....but why take it to Russia? Well perhaps for a better, serene and conducive atmosphere where undue interference would be avoided. I wonder why NFF AGM plus retreat which are also very important were held at home instead of Russia or United Kingdom. I just hope there is nothing to hide from the public hence the meeting with Eagles was moved to Russia? 

I am yet to get the detail of the meeting talking about how many the players and officials would get for bonus, allowance and so on. These bonuses increase as the team progresses. I hope this was noted and captured in or by the meeting. My fear here is why the media was shut out in such meeting....without full briefing in respect of what the players and crew members will get. Most times in the past, we were told that the reason why the authorities refuse to disclose the amounts is to protect the interests of the players and their respective families back home from criminals. But will the boys be paid in Nigeria while the World Cup is on? Are they not getting better sums from their clubs in Europe while their parents and siblings are here? Anyway, the players should know better.

I just hope the players who have agreed to KEEP ALL SECRETS SECRET will not raise any alarm in Russia during or after the tournament. It is assumed they have a gentleman's agreement with the NFF therefore, they should honourably play by the rules agreed at the meeting. We should not or would not accept nor support any act of gang up, protest or complain against the NFF or Nigerian football as represented by our participation in the World Cup. It is either the Eagles speak NOW or forever remain silent. The media must note this, since it is always the pun on the chessboard when crises emanating from such meeting commence. 

The meetings and sad story of Mali 2002 AFCON which shut out the technical crew and most senior players from Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup are still fresh in our memories. We still remember the unfortunate drama at France '98. They are still lingering. I pray we don't go through those paths again....not with this promising yet youthful team with a committed coach. I believe that only Super Eagles can stop Super Eagles in Russia....and only Nigeria can stop Nigeria at this World Cup.


Has the NFF "played ball" with our Senate Sports Committee members and House Sports Committee members? Most times these are where trouble breaks out from. Who gets or got what? Of course, we know that aside FIFA's monies, the FG will surely drop some "serious change" for the World Cup project ....Has the NFF spoken with sponsors? FIFA monies from the World Cup are not part of sponsors or sponsorship deals especially as they concern the World Cup. Are the players aware of these "side bettings"? Or all they know is just the money from FIFA as the team progresses? 

I just hope the MOTHER OF ALL MEETINGS took cognizance of all these salient issues and factored them into the deliberations and agreements. Nigerians don't want nor wish any rancour between the money gulping NFF and Super Eagles. 


Best of luck guys as you prepare to face the world!
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