NIGERIA: MEETING CAF CLUBS DEADLINE

NIGERIA: MEETING CAF CLUBS DEADLINE

BY MUYIWA AKINTUNDE.

The Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) has set October 15 as deadline for registration of 2018/19 club competitions – the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup. Counting from this Monday, that is 50 days or seven weeks away.

In order to synchronise the African football season with that of Europe and other continents, CAF will commence the next inter-club competitions on November 27, 2018, climaxing on June 1, 2019.

Tunisia, Egypt, DR Congo, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Libya, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Swaziland, Uganda, among others, already know their representatives for the CAF Champions League and, for most of them, the Confederation Cup.

Last weekend, Gor Mahia won the Kenyan Premier League title with six games to end the season and will be in the draw for the 2018/19 CAF Champions League.

Where is Nigeria in the mix? For the first time in several years, Nigeria will be fielding one representative (instead of two) each in the continent’s two club competitions, following the consistent poor run of our teams in recent years in Africa.

Seven weeks to the deadline for submitting the names of the teams to CAF, the 2017/18 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL), whose champions will represent the country in the 2018/19 CAF Champions League, has 14 rounds of matches to go, while the Federation Cup, which will produce the Confederation Cup team, is at the preliminary stages with only state editions completed. No date been fixed for the Round of 64 draw.

Yes, the good news is that the world-wide ban hanging on Nigerians football has been eased off; But the League Management Committee is yet to confirm when the NPFL will get back on track. Going by the speculated September 2 resumption, the task of concluding the league season before October 15 is already dead on arrival.

If we play two matches per week, that will mean 12 out of 14 rounds of matches by October 15.

And that is not considering the schedule for the Federation Cup and the possibility of Enyimba progressing beyond the group stage by Wednesday in the CAF Confederation Cup.

It’s a whole mess the avoidable crisis in the football house has created for the game in Nigeria. How things will pan out is yet to be determined by the football authorities.

In Ghana, a similar situation plays out as a result of the suspension of football by FIFA, which is investigating several referees and administrators for match-fixing.

Less than two months to CAF’s deadline for submitting inter-club competitions’ representatives, the Ghana Premier League has only completed 15 weeks, which is only half-way through the season, while the Ghana Cup is in the Round of 32.

No one knows when the league in Ghana, earlier scheduled to resume on July 8, will now commence, if it ever will. It is being speculated that Medeama and Ashanti Gold, respectively league leaders and runner-up at the moment, will have their names forwarded to CAF as the country’s teams for the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup respectively.

If Nigeria adopts the same approach, the odds favour Lobi Stars and Akwa United, first and second respectively at the last kick of the ball in the NPFL, to fly Nigeria’s flag in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup. What then becomes of the Federation Cup?

Will it run its full course to have the winning team fielded for CAF Confederation Cup, and only the team leading the NPFL by CAF deadline registered for the CAF Champions League?

 

These and many other questions agitate the minds of Nigerian football fans.

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