NFF Technical and Development Committee chairman, Felix Anyansi Agwu speaks on the bitter lessons of Eagles AFCON miss, Enyeama’s CAF Award loss, Emem Eduok’s saga and the Dubai invitational tournament in this interview with SAB OSUJI
What’s your impression of this year’s Glo/CAF?
It was great, it was always going to be beautiful. It has continued to improve, every edition always better than the other. We must commend the organizers, Globacom and CAF. Its not easy. I’m particularly happy that its happening in our own country.
Are you surprised that our own Vincent Enyeama did not win the award?
I expected Enyeama to win, I prayed for him to win, being one of our own, I know he was qualified to emerge as African best. He has all the qualities, he performed well for the Super Eagles which he is also the captain.
Besides, Enyeama had a wonderful season in France where he was even declared as the best goalkeeper of the year.
But unfortunately, he was beaten to the award by Yaya Toure. The votes did not go in his favour and I hope he gets it next time.
The case of Emem Eduok’s ownership is a burning issue at the moment. As chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee saddled with the task of solving this riddle, how easy or tough is the assignment?
It’s quite a simple matter. From what we have been able to gather so far, I think its not far from what we’ve been experiencing all along. So I don’t see any difficulty in finding out who the true owners of Emem Eduok is. We’re almost done with it and presented to the NFF Executive Committee who are expected to take a decision on it.
The Super Eagles are in the UAE for friendly games with Ivory Coast and Sudan. The team is entirely home based giving impression we’re looking ahead to the coming CHAN qualifiers. Is this a new order?
Of course yes. What the previous board did is what this new one is trying to sustain. That’s the most important thing. We’re making sure that every (FIFA) window is never left out by any of our teams, not only the Super Eagles, but all the national teams.
Including the women national teams?
Yes, all of them. No one of them will be left out whenever the opportunity comes. We want them to be exposed for maximum performance in international competitions. That’s why we had to arrange the two high profile friendly games in Dubai for the Super Eagles. For this particular board to have taken this bold step, this initiative even in the face of the recent challenges the board has passed through it looked straight, held its head up and ignored all the distractions to make sure the right things are done. We try to forget the ugly incident that we’re not able to make it to the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea. That belongs to the past right now and I think we (NFF)have learned our lessons. From what we’re seeing, the picture is quite clearer now that positive things, I mean good things are coming back to Nigeria football.
That’s interesting, but what’s NFF’s plan for Super Falcons preparation for the Women’s World Cup in Canada in June?
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is a big championship for the country and NFF is making sure that the Super Falcons get the best of preparation for it. We’re working hard to ensure that the team moves into camp at the right time and this will be very soon.
The Eagles lost 1-0 to Ivory Coast in their opening match, are you disappointed with their performance and result?
Not at all, the players, as a team, did very well. I’m sure many Nigerians did not expect that kind of performance from them. They did their best, remember, the Ivorien team paraded almost all their foreign based players in the match. And given the fact that our team did not have enough training time before the game, you will agree that they did well and with more of such games, surely they’ll get better.
So you are hopeful they will do better or even win their last game with Yemen who replaced Sudan in their last game on Saturday?
It’s not mathematics, but if you take a look at what they did against Ivory Coast, you’ll have the confidence they will improve in subsequent games.
How were you, I mean NFF, able to quickly arrange the game with Yemen after Sudan pulled out?
It’s all part of what we’ve been preaching, trying to let Nigerians know and have confidence in this board because we want to ensure that our teams exploited all FIFA windows. And of course, we’ll continue to do this, making sure we exposed the players and get them ready at all times.
Finally,all eyes are on Enyimba, so how ready is the club going into the CAF Champions League next month?
I agree with you that all eyes are on Enyimba. Enyimba is a household name, a phenomenon, a team you can never ignore but fear and respect. As it is, things are being put in place for adequate preparation to take off. Very soon, the club will refocus. The team will be properly repositioned irrespective of some challenges.
What challenges are you talking about here chairman?
Every beginning goes with its challenges. Here we’re talking about players recruitment and clearance, among other issues. Enyimba is a big force in Africa. We don’t just go into competitions for the fun of it. We don’t go into competitions to make up numbers, no. We go out there to compete to win. We see how far we can go, we know what Nigerians feel about Enyimba, they hold the club in high esteem and we will always try to keep the flag flying. We built that for ourselves and we don’t wish to step it down.
Thank you chairman