Nigeria’s sole survivors in this year’s CAF inter club competitions, Rivers United, are still awaiting the delivery of their CAF match balls nearly two months after the continental football governing body, CAF, dispatched the balls to the federations of the 16 teams that made it to the group phase of the continent’s second tier interclub competition, CAF Confederation Cup.
The Rivers United consignment, comprising 100 match balls, is said to have been dispatched in the name of a Nigeria Football Federation top official.
It was gathered that the balls, as well as other items due to each of the participating clubs, were dispatched to the clubs through their national football associations just a day after the group draws were held in Cairo, Egypt, on April 26.
Surprisingly, the Pride of Rivers are yet to take delivery of their own consignment, forcing the team to honour their three first round matches without having to train with the official CAF match balls once.
“Every competition has its officially approved match balls. It applies to both FIFA, UEFA, CAF and even domestic league organisers”, an official of Rivers United said.
“During the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup, the official match ball was named Jabulani.
“Our domestic NPFL league has its own approved match ball but unfortunately, while our group opponents have taken delivery of their CAF approved match balls and have been training with them, we are yet to receive our own consignment not to talk of training with them.
“We don’t know what is happening that NFF are yet to deliver the balls to us so that we can train and play with them.
“When we travelled to Tunisia for the first group match against Club Africain, we travelled with our NPFL match balls only to play the match with the official match balls. It was strange to our players.
“It makes our players very cautious in kicking the ball because it appears we had to study the ball first because it bounces faster.
“Against FUS Rabat of Morocco here in Port Harcourt, you cannot believe that we had to play with the match balls which the Moroccans came with.
“You then begin to ask why our own balls have not been delivered to us by the NFF.
“We have made efforts to rescue the situation only to be told that the consignment was dispatched in the name of an NFF top official and only him or through his express order or permission the balls could be released to us”, the Rivers United official lamented.
However, technical manager of the club, Stanley Eguma, said it was very unfortunate that two months after CAF gave out the balls and other items to all the 16 participating clubs, his team was yet to receive theirs through the national association.
“It’s sad that we find ourselves in this situation”, Eguma lamented.
“Could this be sabotage, I don’t know but it is affecting us.
“The players have not had the opportunity of training with the ball, to know how it is and all that.
“Yes, one can say a ball is a ball but then if it were so, why do FIFA, CAF, UEFA and other football bodies approve a certain match ball for certain competitions?
“This CAF match ball in question is completely different from the NPFL match balls and when your players don’t have the advantage of training with the ball or have a feel of it before games, then something is wrong and one has to ask why our consignment is not yet released to us by the NFF.”