The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Charlse Akpuenika, and other soccer fans have congratulated the Golden Eaglets for winning the 2018 WAFU Zone B U-17 AFCON in Niger Republic on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the team defeated the Black Starlets of Ghana 3-1 on penalties after full time scores stood at 1-1, thereby earning the zone’s sole ticket for the U-17 AFCON in Tanzania in 2019.
The fans told NAN on Sunday that the Nigerian Football Federation should permanently check the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan issue that had bedeviled the nation’s cadet teams in recent times.
Akpuenika commended the fighting spirit of the Eaglets, noting that they rekindled the Nigerian “never-say die” attitude while pursuing national causes.
He said: “The team’s victory at the competition in spite of all obstacles has shown that with determination, courage and patriotism, Nigerians will excel in any endeavour or cause they seek to propagate.
“I, however, urge the NFF to ensure that the MRI Scan, which once again reared its ugly head during the competition, is permanently nipped to save the country the embarrassment which follows it.”
Supporting his assertion, Hillary Obiesie, Ebonyi State Sports Council Secretary, noted that the Eaglets deserved special recognition for winning the competition in spite of the initial challenges that confronted the team.
Obiesie said: “Two of its outfield players were disqualified for failing the mandatory MRI Scan, which left the team with only 18 out of the stipulated pool of 20, with only 15 of them being outfield players.
“The team was also written off by many soccer fans in the country after losing its first match 2-3 to lowly-fancied Burkina Faso and positing a below-par performance.”
Chinedu Chiaha, a Soccer Historian, recalled that the MRI issue, which had bedeviled the team, started in 2013 and wondered why the NFF could not solve the problem.
Chiaha said: “The Super Star Wilfred Ndidi among other players were disqualified by CAF in the 2013 U-17 AFCON for failing the MRI Scan and it took CAF’s special regard for Nigeria not to suspend it from the competition.
“Nigeria also failed to qualify for the 2017 U-17 AFCON after 80 per cent of Manu Garba’s Eaglets failed the same test with days to its qualifier against Niger Republic in Abuja.”
Dr. Francis Mezie, a Medical Doctor, noted that it was shameful for the medical department of the NFF not to ensure a credible MRI Scan for Eaglets players before competitions.
Mezie said: “The NFF will tell Nigerians that all selected players passed the test but we discover that many had actually failed it before the qualifiers and the competitions proper.
“The entire medical department of the NFF should be overhauled to save the country of further embarrassment as it may suffer outright suspension if the malaise continues up to the world stage.”
Adaora Oboh, a youth activist, urged the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, to fulfill his promise of taking the team on a training tour of Qatar and other countries for effective preparation.
Oboh said: “Coach Manu Garba should not alter the cup-winning team but only fill areas of lapses with players who suit his technical ideology.
“The NFF must as a matter of urgency, employ the best MRI Scan modalities to ensure that players who will represent the country in Tanzania pass the test before leaving the country.