Kit problems not new with Nigerian teams at major events

Kit problems not new with Nigerian teams at major events
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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

On the day Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games began, it came to light that the Nigerian team had to make emergency arrangement of getting alternative kits including sewing of badges. It is not the first time the country have had to face such embarrassing  situation. In fact the current one is barely a 31st anniversary of when the Super Eagles were nearly walkover at home for their inability to have jerseys to play an Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Burkina Faso in Lagos.

Sports Village Square recalls that it is like a recurring decimal for Nigerian teams which just days before had to cope with athletes having wrong spellings of the country’s name adorning their vests.

Here are some of the off the field controversies that Nigerian teams have raised  bordering on issues like kits and means of identification.

  • 1980 – The Nigerian representatives had lost 1-2 in Lubumbashi a fortnight earlier and only needed a goal to reach the semi final of the competition in Ibadan. The match was delayed for three hours following the inability of the home team to produce the CAF license of the players because the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) forgot the documents in Lagos. Each member of the Nigeria team had to be photographed with the centre referee. Shooting Stars lost the match on penalties after winning 2-1 score line to drag the game into shoot out.
  • 1979 -The Nigeria Football Association (NFA) forgot to fill the entry form for the Nigerian team for the football tournament of the Olympic Games and thus missed out from the qualifying series. But fortuitously, Ghana who qualified withdrew following America’s campaign for African teams to boycott the Moscow Games. Nigeria’s Green Eagles as winners of the 1980 Afcon were invited as last minute replacements.
  •  1984 – In the second leg of the final match of the then Africa Cup of Champions Club in which IICC Shooting Stars were to face Egypt’s Zamalek in Lagos, the Nigerian team was rendered impotent as it was on the morning of the match day at the pre-match meeting that they learnt that key player, Felix Owolabi was ineligible for the match having obtained a second yellow card in the first leg duel. Their initial playing plan was disrupted as half-fit Lookman Oshun had to take his place. Shooting Stars lost the match and the cup.
  • 1989 – In December, FIFA banned Nigeria for two-years from age-related competitions as the NFA officials had earlier presented conflicting dates of births at the U-20 competitions for three players – Andrew Uwe, Samson Siasia and Dahiru Sadi at the 1988 Olympic Games.  
  • 1991 – on 27 July, Nigeria needed to defeat Burkina Faso to qualify for the AFCON edition to be hosted by Senegal the following year. The late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, as the then Chief of General Staff was the special guest of honour at the main bowl of the National Stadium in Lagos. After two hours of delay, Super Eagles appeared in a make-shift pants because the then NFA official in charge of kits left the jerseys at the team’s camp at Obasanjo Farm Otta. The players track down had to be cut with scissors for the match to go ahead. Although Nigeria won the tie 7-1 to reach the finals of the tournament, the then Sports Minister, Major General Yohanna Kure, came down hard on football federation with the dissolution of the board led by former Unipetrol Managing Director, Alhaji Yusuf Ali while Secretary General, Momodu Kadiri was relieved of his job.
  • 1996 – The Nigeria U-17 team, Golden Eaglets were walked over on home soil in Ibadan in the return leg of their African qualifiers with Benin Republic. They played a goalless draw in the first leg match on 7 September in Cotonou and were to wrap it up in Ibadan. Alas! The NFA officials forgot their passports in Lagos and so the match could not hold. Nigeria were walked over on their home soil!
  • 2005 – In November 16, a hurriedly assembled Super Eagles squad arrived Bucharest on match day for a friendly with Romania. Apart from having just 12 players, meaning they can make just one substitution, they were not with kits! Coaches had to roam the streets in search of green vests with which Nigeria eventually played the match that they expectedly lost 3-0.
  • 2014 – A similar scenario of missing kits as experienced at Birmingham 2022 occurred eight years ago at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Even medal winners have to borrow tracksuits from their colleagues, usually in other sports disciplines, to make podium appearances. So some athletes are competing in the official team Nigeria kits Adidas while their compatriots are in Nike. Some weightlifters wore the recognisable green and white kits while some were in some strange blue, others were in some black and luminous green even red….
  • 2019 – The Super Eagles arrived Dnipro without their kits as the Turkish Airline left them in transit at Istanbul along with players’ luggage as they prepared for a 10 September friendly match with Ukraine.

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