Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunday Dankaro House

NIGERIA achieved a significant  milestone last week when Vice-President Namadi Sambo officially inaugurated the permanent secretariat building of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) at the National Stadium, Abuja. Although the office complex is long overdue, considering football’s status as the leading sport in Nigeria, it is a welcome relief  that we finally have what I hope will be a “befitting” secretariat from where to run the game.

On Monday night this week, I called NFF President Alhaji Aminu Maigari to congratulate him. He was quick to deflect any credit for the construction, admitting that NFF did not spend one kobo on the N337million project.
“The building was financed entirely by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the 2010 World Cup headed by Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi. The contract was tendered and supervised by the National Sports Commission (NSC). The only thing we have done at the NFF now is to collect the keys to the building. We are very lucky and grateful.”

Maigari is indeed a lucky man. When the story of the new NFF secretariat will be told any time in the future, it will be said that he was the president when the NFF moved into its permanent secretariat. Coming in a year (2013) when he also led Nigeria to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the third time, Maigari’s legacy is firmly secured.

I decided to call Maigari to congratulate him because building a secretariat was one of the goals that I personally set for him during a long telephone conversation at the start of his tenure when he was still seeking legitimacy amidst a myriad of court cases against his election. “Of course, your primary task is to develop Nigerian football and manage the national football teams. But if you are prudent with your resources and manage to build a secretariat from your grants and sponsorships, that would be a lasting legacy,” I admonished.

“I will keep that in mind and, I promise you, I will try and pursue it,” he had said. Now, never mind that, by his own account, he has not lifted a finger in the project execution. I think he deserves to be congratulated anyway. Lucky man.

It’s ironic that the new NFF secretariat was inaugurated last week even as the panel set up by sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi to probe the Super Eagles bonus row in Namibia was still sitting. You wonder about the connection between the two? Well, it was the PTF that gave birth to the $10,000 bonus issue that is now tearing the Eagles apart. It was also the PTF that generated the funds that were used to build the new NFF secretariat.

If you ask erstwhile NFF president Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi, he will probably dismiss the PTF as a disruptive influence in Nigerian football because the body ultimately accounted for the ouster of Lulu’s administration.
Maigari  obviously holds a different view because Lulu’s loss was Maigari’s gain. From neutrals like me, I expect it will be thumbs up as well for the PTF. It’s not often that we see a government body declaring a financial surplus after a successful assignment, and then investing that surplus as productively as the PTF have done. Take a bow then, Governor Rotimi Amaechi and other members of the PTF.

To cap it all, what I have found most pleasing about the NFF secretariat project is its naming in honour of the late Chief Sunday Dankaro, a former chairman of the Nigeria Football Association between 1974 and 1980.

Dankaro, himself a former footballer, had the responsibility of guiding Nigeria to our first Africa Cup of Nations win in 1980. He died in 2006 and history seemed to have forgotten the great man. But the birth of Sunday Dankaro House has now brought him back to life. I love it.

I was told that the 27 offices and halls at Sunday Dankaro House are equally named after other deserving Nigerian football heroes dead and living such as former internationals late Rashidi Yekini, Muda Lawal, Innua Rigogo and accomplished administrators like the late chairman of the National Sports Commission, Chief Isaac Akioye. At least for once, we are living up to the promise in our national anthem that “the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” All is not lost for Nigeria afterall.

Record bans for record goalscorers

I FULLY endorse the life bans imposed by the Nigeria Football Federation on the players and officials of the four clubsides that brought the game into disrepute recently through scandalous match-fixing.

Plateau United Feeders “fed” Akurba FC 79-0 while Police Machine “gunned down” Bubayaro FC 67-0 to record the highest scorelines in Nigerian football history as they jostled for “promotion” to the lowest tier of the domestic league. The NFF promptly cancelled the “results” and has now followed with the hefty sanctions. If there is anything greater than life bans, those players, team officials and match referees deserve it. Nonsense!


Keshi is unfair to Yobo

There are many crucial issues currently affecting the Super Eagles. The bonus row is yet to be unravelled while coach Stephen Keshi's 'row' with some players is another issue. There is need for the Eagles to have a substantive captain who will be the captain on the field and also take the leadership role in camp. For now Vincent Enyeama is standing in for the Joseph Yobo and because he is acting, we cannot get his best. I strongly believe Mikel Obi is good to lead the team because he is our best player for now and he can talk to all other players especially those in the UK on national team matters and discipline.

Yobo is still good enough to be in the team but because of his outburst shortly after the Nations Cup, Keshi is no longer calling him for games and this is not good for Nigeria. We have quality defenders in the team but Yobo’s experience is still relevant. He is on course to feature for Nigeria 100 times and we should help him to attain such a remarkable milestone. He has 93 caps so far. On Monday, a former captain, Austin Okocha, said Yobo was still relevant in the team and wondered why he was not invited for the forthcoming Mandela Challenge holding next month in South Africa. The Big Boss has also explained that he would not like to put Yobo on the bench but the truth is, even if for 30 minutes, Yobo is still a Super Eagles material. Imagine how Fernando Torres scored against Nigeria in Brazil! Keshi should avoid sentiments and give Yobo another chance in the team even if he will be a member while a new skipper is named to grow with the team.

On merit, Yobo should be in the team and it is unfair to leave him out.  For now, Victor Anichebe is yet to join the Eagles and this is also a big test for the coach. I hate to hear him say he will not beg any player. How he does it is up to him but we really need Anichebe because of his strength and youthfulness. – From Adekunle Salami, Lagos.

Re: Spain’s Tiki-taka and the Confederations Cup

After reading your write-up titled “Spain Must Reinvent Its Philosophy”, it just occurred to me that Brazil had done something similar before.  Brazil won three World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970 playing jogo bonito. The world got wise and found an antidote to Brazil’s dominance. Brazil continued to play jogo bonito with its elaborate and oftentimes slow build-up but they didn’t get to the final of the World Cup again, much less win it for 24 years (in 6 consecutive World Cups!!). Spain just got punished  for the same mistake of not changing a “winning, tested and trusted style” before the world discovered the antidote. Brazil learned the lesson and changed. Spain must do the same. The day we stop learning or think there is nothing new to learn, we start dying. Skill without cutting edge is zero. Those with ears... – Howard Odigie (Lagos).

Oga Mumini, tiki-taka is not dead. The only reason Brazil defeated Spain comprehensively is due to home advantage. If the match was played on a neutral ground, Spain’s tiki-taka would have prevailed convincingly. –Anowe Okiemute Friday from Oghara, Delta State.

 I TOTALLY disagree with Diego Maradona on his view that Brazil defeated Spain because of home advantage. Personally, I do not believe in home advantage. If the match is replayed in Madrid, Brazil will beat Spain  again. Any moderate or big team that wants to play Spain or Barca should choke their midfield and that was what Italy and Brazil did. I admire the playing pattern of Spain but to be champions again, they must change pattern. See you in Brasil 2014. – From Adesope Y.A. Saki, Oyo State.

While your analysis of tiki-taka hurts me as a Barca fan, I must admit you hit the bull’s eye. Kudos to you and this is my first contribution. – El Flaco, Lagos.

Oga Mumini, I liked your objective and down to the earth analysis of Spain. I also want to state that if Mario Balotelli had played for Italy in their semi against Spain, and Nigeria used sharper attackers against Spain, the results would have been different. – Adegbiji Wonderment, Ibadan.

Mumini, I want to agree with your verdict on Spain. They must change their style else the tiki-taka will lead them to katakata. – Ndu Ebieme, Lagos.

Don’t you think that tiki-taka with ‘false 9’ is more effective than tiki-taka mixed with full fledged strikers? I marvel at your technical know-how and wonder why your likes and Sunday Oliseh should be left out of Nigeria’s technical director’s job while spent forces are being recycled. If there is a basic skill required for inviting a player to the national team, I would like to know what the likes of John Ogu, Babatunde Michael, Joseph Akpala, Anthony Ujah not to talk of most of the home-based players are doing in the National team. For taking such players to a competition as high as the Confederations Cup, my rating of  Stephen Keshi as a coach has gone very low and I doubt if he can take Nigerian football to any level. – ???

Dear Mumini. It is now very glaring that dependable strikers are still very much required in the Super Eagles squad besides Emenike, Dike and wingers Victor Moses, Nnamdi Oduamadi and sometimes - Musa. As at now,  Anthony Ujah “o ja nothing”, Joseph Akpala “o jo apala rara” and the rest have been incognito. Can the likes of Anichebe, Eneramo, Kalu Uche, (Eghiosun?) rescue the situation? Apparently, Ideye is a supporting striker who is  ineffective without a lead striker.

As for the midfielders, the likes of Lukman Haruna could be tried while John Obi Mikel should be encouraged to drop his latest Chelsea - ruined no.10 approach and stick to his usual central role, spreading good passes as he effectively did at AFCON 2013. The back line-up still needs further reinforcement and the experience of Joseph Yobo. I also wish Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses, Dike and Apam quick recovery as they can strengthen the Super Eagles. Above all, Stephen Keshi and the NFF must improve on their man management skills. God bless Nigeria. – Dele Kola, Omole - Ikeja.

Oga Mumini, please help us advise Keshi to only play Ideye as a second striker and look for another lead striker. –From Oyaisi John, Ore.

Mumini, coach Stephen Keshi will surprise the whole world come 2014 World Cup. Big Boss is one of the best coaches Nigeria has ever produced. I want Nigerians to leave him alone to do the selection of players. Our major problem in football is politics, not the players or the coach. I personally saw a vision of Nigeria vs Brazil finals in 2014 World Cup final. But the camp should be free of ethnicity and tribalism. – Evangelist Chris . A . Gabriel, BENUE STATE.

Oga Alao, God bless you for giving some us the opportunity to say something about our national team. Our under-20 national team is a disgrace. They don’t play like a team. NFF should without delay disband the team,  get a new coach and bring in new set of players to replace these wobbling boys. – Emma Arinze, Lagos.

Good morning, sir. I want to comment on three issues. First, most of us can now see the limit to which John Obuh can reach. Second, if we have that MRI testing apparatus, how come three of our best Golden Eaglets were screened out at the African Under-17 tournament? We wouldn’t want such to happen at the world stage. Third, Edinson Cavani saying Luis Suarez is too good to play for Liverpool. I think Suarez is a good player, but if one looks at the number of misses and selfish play he committed that lead to Liverpool FC losing matches, I will say good riddance to bad rubbish. – From Yahaya Usman.

Uncle Mumini, the rythm of our National Anthem is being  played too fast and ‘curt’ during our international matches.  Though the lyrics are emotional, but because the rythm is played too fast,  it loses the emotional attachment associated to it. Listening to, say, Ghana or Cameroun anthems, you are moved because they are played at slower paces, even though you might not understand the lyrics of their anthem, especially that of Cameroun. The Brazillian anthem nearly drew tears from the eyes of their players and fans alike, because of the slow pace of the rythm. Though it was sang in Portuguese, it still got some of us moved. Yes, our national anthem is sweet to the ear and the lyrics are highly emotional. But let it be played at a slower pace for greater impact. – Nationale, from Alaba International Market, Lagos.

Alhaji, I’m always happy to read from you. Your football analysis and assessment remains the best. Have a good evening. – Rosemary, Ikeja.

I don’t have much interest in football or reading sports papers. But I don’t miss Soccertalk every week, if I don’t see it, I’ll query my husband. –MRS. IDOWU R.B.

God bless you sir. Your assessment of the Confederations Cup is admirable. Please tell Keshi to remove those his weak legs like Ideye, Gambo and Ogude from our team. Uche brothers, Martins and John Utaka will do us proud in the attack. Odemwingie is a bad egg, Yobo is no more needed. – From Ogazawa, Surulere, Lagos.

Re: Code of Conduct for Super Eagles

THE Super Eagles were right in their demand for $10,000 bonus. Our lawmakers always ask for pay rise. These players give Nigerians joy anytime they play. What do our ASOFINS (legislators) give to us? The only thing that unite Nigerians is football. They know what the legislators get for a sitting. NFF should increase the players’ allowance and match bonus so that they will play good football for us. – Oyeniyi Onisola, Ibadan.

Oga MumIni. E ku ongbe o. You are spot on in your responses to all the questions raised. I also salute your dispassionate, bold and fair assessment of the issues at stake. If even the NFF and Sport Ministry only would submit to existing codes for public servants in the country, they would be a good example for the players and coaches to follow. Ultimately if all these codes are not strongly enforced with offenders severely punished, they may as well end up being dumped on the shelf where they would eventually gather dust like others before them. – From Ayekooto.

Oga Mumini. As Ayekooto said: E ku ongbe o! Bulls-eye shot about the officials having to approach with 'clean hands' the question of code of conduct. But the issue is not fundamentally about corruption. It is about GROSS INCOMPETENCE. The NFF, as ever, is INCOMPETENT. Period. Our habit of fingering corruption for every institutional failure detracts from the intolerable incompetence of relevant officials. We shall continue to stumble until we determine that football is an industry (not a recreation), and thus detail capable administrators to run it. The code of conduct is simply a placebo; the disease persists. – From ADA ORILE.


  1. Oga Mumini,
    The inauguration of Sunday Dankaro House is a welcome development, even though it is belated.
    Nigeria football administration continues to lag behind the country's playing prowess.
    The perennial level of incompetence at our football administration is really unacceptable.
    It is a disgrace that this current NFF have not ridden the crest of our AFCON triumph to improve the state of affairs at NFF.
    After that AFCON triumph, the NFF should not be lamenting about lack of funds.
    What in God's name is the Marketing Department doing?
    One idea: In the aftermath of the AFCON win, a mere publication depicting Behind-The-Scenes activities centred around the Super Eagles, including players and technical crew, covering preparations in Portugal and the tournament itself(AFCON 2013), could have sold millions.
    Every championship-winning country milks every mileage from success, including commemorative publications that become best-sellers.
    But apparently, NFF had no Chronicler in the Eagles camp to record the historic feat of AFCON 2013.
    Some of us who continually criticize our soccer administrators know that Nigeria, as a country, can definitely do better.
    Check out the organisation of a country with a sound soccer administration and structure:
    "COVERCIANO - HOME OF ITALIAN FOOTBALL (courtesy of BBC, Jan 2010)
    For more than half a century this has been the true home of Italian football, where the game is organised, and the secrets of the country's proud sporting heritage are passed on.
    This is where Italy's most promising young coaches come to learn their trade, and where the national teams in every age-group train before games. It is from here that the Azzurri's World Cup triumphs in 1982 and 2006 were masterminded.
    But Coverciano is about more than sporting facilities. There is the museum, where an array of memorabilia celebrating Italy's footballing heritage is displayed in a permanent exhibition, and a lecture theatre where seminars and courses on the arts of football coaching are conducted.
    Nearby is the library, where books and periodicals dedicated to football are stored, and where visitors are given an insight into the intellectual development of some of the sport's most famous names.
    Vanni pulls out a dusty pamphlet entitled 'Il Futuro del Calcio: Piu Dinamicita' - 'The Future of Football: More Dynamism'. It is the original thesis that Carlo Ancelotti wrote when studying for his Master Course here in 1997, full of charts, diagrams and conclusions.
    Next he shows us Fabio Capello's study of "The Zonal Marking System", a piece of research he completed in 1984 when a student here. Next is Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini's 2001 pamphlet, "Il Trequartista", dedicated to examining the role of the attacking midfielder.
    Away from these quiet areas, Coverciano is a hive of activity. Lazio are playing local club Fiorentina that evening and the squad is staying here, as away teams often do, before the match.
    The Italian Under-18s are playing a game watched by hundreds of parents and scouts. On a neighbouring pitch a referees' training course is in full swing. In the canteen, a group of coaches discuss their latest ideas and discoveries.
    Coverciano is so much more than simply a base for Italian football. It represents a belief; that the art and science of football is a discipline that can be studied and mastered, and then shared for the benefit of the whole sport.
    Its role is not to develop young players, the Serie A clubs have responsibility for doing that. Rather, it is to provide the ideal conditions in which coaches of every age-group can come to learn their craft, go back to their clubs and aid the development of the game's players.
    Coverciano is truly a nerve-centre for football in Italy."
    Oga Mumini, we need competent administrators, abeg!!

  2. Nigerian Football team has finest players in the world -