• They must give proper account — Adelabu
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), yesterday, declared that it has nothing to hide in the $1.7 million approved by the Federal Government for Super Falcons’ participation in the ongoing Women’s World Cup holding in Australia and New Zealand.
NFF’s declaration came just as former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, charged the football house to be ready to account for how it spent the money after the competition.
Adelabu said: “The important thing is for them to give account of how the money was spent after the World Cup. If they are subjected to forensic auditing of account at the end of the competition, everything will be clear.”
The $1.7million approved by President Bola Tinubu for the Super Falcons’ participation at the World Cup was said to have been deliberately leaked to members of the public from office of the Chief of Staff in the Presidential Villa, thereby, causing mixed reactions from stakeholders.
While some are of the opinion that the leakage of such ‘classified documents’ should be condemned, others feel it will make the NFF to sit up.
Some other stakeholders were of the opinion that the Federal Government doesn’t have any business approving such huge amount for the NFF since world football governing body, FIFA, had already given the football house $1.5 million to prepare the team and would pay $30,000 to each player participating in the World Cup after the first round of matches.
However, a top official of the NFF told The Guardian, yesterday, that what the Federal Government approved was meant to cater for a number of things.
“The breakdown of all we asked from the Federal Government is there for everyone to see,” the official said, pleading anonymity. “At the initial stage, our request to the Federal Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development captured winning bonuses for the players. But immediately FIFA came up with its $30,000 for the players, we wrote another letter to government to expunge the winning bonuses from the budget.
“Now, what we have in the breakdown is daily allowances for the players, winning bonuses and estacode for the coaches and other technical officials, as well as money for medical expenses. If there is serious medical issue concerning the players, it is the responsibility of FIFA to address it. But it is the duty of every federation to provide medicals for the players and their officials at any competition,” the official said.
In another development, NFF’s Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, has disclosed that the Federation’s decision to approve coach Randy Waldrum’s request for a fitness trainer has paid off for the Super Falcons at the World Cup.
Speaking with The Guardian from Australia, Sanusi said: “The technical crew requested for a fitness trainer, and we approved it. They also brought one Video Analyst, Dr. Terry Eguaje, to this World Cup, and the decision is really helping the team. The players are very fit, and I can tell you that they are fully ready for Thursday’s second group match against Australia.”
After the first round of matches, the Super Falcons remain the only African team with a draw at the event.
Thursday’s encounter between the Super Falcons and the Matildas of Australia has assumed high importance for both teams following the declaration of Matildas’ defender, Charlie Grant, that the Aussies have a good idea of how to cage the Super Falcons.
Grant said yesterday that the Republic of Ireland sat deep in the two teams’ clash at Stadium Australia on the opening day of the tournament, but that she would expect the Super Falcons to play more adventurously at the Lang Park on Thursday evening.
Nigeria captain Onome Ebi said the nine-time African champions have no reason to reveal their strategy for the game, but they would certainly surprise the Matildas.
“It is interesting that they have an idea of how to play us. We also have our own idea of how to play them. It is a very crucial game for us and we will throw everything we have into it.”
Australia, with three points, top Group B after the first round of matches, with Nigeria and Canada joint second with one point each.
“It is very important to us to collect the three points on Thursday. That will put us in a great position before we play the Irish.”
For the Matildas, victory will take them to six points and all but guarantee a place in the Round of 16, ahead of their much-anticipated clash with Olympic champions, Canada.
With the championship hosting 32 teams, it means only two top-placed teams in each will make progress to the knock-out rounds, where more cash is available for the players.
Ebi said the Falcons also want to earn more money in the tournament, with the sum of $60,000 to go to each player whose team attains the Round of 16, and $90,000 for any team that gets to the quarterfinals. Players of teams that exit the group stage will only earn $30,000 each.
Ever-present Nigeria is the only African team to have earned a point here after their first round of matches, with other flagbearers Zambia, South Africa and Morocco having been denied of any point by their respective opponents.
Nigeria’s forward, Desire Oparanozie, could play some part in Thursday’s cracker with the co-hosts at the Lang Park, as she appears to have substantially recovered from the injury she copped on the last day of the final training camp in Gold Coast, days to the FIFA World Cup.
She trained on her own, kicking the ball on the side of the pitch as the other 21 players were drilled by Waldrum and his assistants. Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, who saved a penalty taken by non-pareil Christine Sinclair and won the MVP award on the day, was allowed off perhaps to relax her nerves.