Algeria/Nigeria: How Nigeria would have lost 2018 World Cup ticket



Football

By Tunji Faleye

Nigerians would have woken up this morning with a sad story that the Super Eagles have been substituted by Zambia had it been that The Chipolopolo or any other team in that group had equal points with the Super Eagles. Or The Super Eagles had not qualify before their last match in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Algeria in Constantine on Friday, 10th November 2017.

What a great error again on the part of the Technical Committee of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF. It is lugubrious that this kind of error will occur to Nigeria at a time when the Super Eagles through their dedication and sense of unity have become the darling of every football lover both at home and abroad.

Just yesterday, World football –ruling body, FIFA, rejected Nigeria’s defence on the use of an ineligible player during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Algeria in Constantine on Friday, 10th November 2017, thus awarding the match to Algeria.

The decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee which sat on the matter read, inter alia: “The Nigeria Football Federation is liable for having breached art.55 par.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and art. 8 of the 2018 Regulations of the FIFA World Cup Russia.

“The match played within the frame of the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between Algeria and Nigeria on 10 November 2017 is declared to be lost by forfeit by Nigeria (3-0).” The NFF was also fined the sum of 6,000 Swiss Francs.
The match ended 1-1. Following the decision, Nigeria’s total points tally reduced by just one, to 13, while Algeria moved from 2 to 4 points.

It will be recalled that FIFA hinted the NFF about the disciplinary proceedings, following the use of defender Abdullahi Shehu in the said match. Shehu had received a yellow card in the match against Zambia in Uyo on 7th October 2017 (the match in which victory guaranteed Nigeria a place in Russia), making it a second for him in the qualifying race, following an earlier yellow card against Swaziland in the preliminary round. Traditionally, yellow cards issued in previous rounds of the qualifying race are cancelled going forward, but the principle did not apply for the latest series.

Despite the fact that the sanction does not in any way hurt Nigeria’s qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals, as the Super Eagles had picked the ticket from Group B ahead of the clash in Constantine. a miffed NFF President Ammaju Pinnick has directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with. “We accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria.

“This is a grave error and somebody must be punished. We apologize to Nigerians for this and assure that this will not in any way derail or even distract us in our well –laid plan to ensure that the Super Eagles have a great outing in Russia.

“At the same time, I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip would not be given just a slap on the wrist. We are actually looking at a re-organization of the Technical Department. The Technical Committee will henceforth play serious superintending role on all details, no matter how minute, in technical matters.

“It is important that all committees and departments at the NFF should move at the same pace as the Executive Committee,” stated Pinnick.

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