Dolphins FC arrived in Tunisia at 1pm on Saturday, March 14, 2015 and were scheduled to play a CAF Confederation Cup game against Club Africain at 3pm, same day.
Before we departed from Lagos on Thursday, we had informed the Nigeria Football Federation through Bola Oyeyode, the head of international department and Musa Amadu, the General Secretary, in writing of our challenges and wanted the game moved by one day from Saturday to Sunday.
We arrived in Tunis, via Emirates Airline on Saturday, 14 March 2015 at exactly 1pm. And even though our request to have the game postponed was not granted, we were ready to play as we arrived in good time, though fatigued and travel weary.
On our arrival at 1pm it took the chancery up to two hours before our visas were processed and passports issued to the delegation (note that Tunisian visa to Nigerians from Nigeria are issued at point of entry).
And this was already the kick off time. On conclusion of immigration formalities with the assistance of two Nigerian embassy officials led by M. K. Yusuf we exited the airport building at 3pm. There was no bus to convey the delegation to the stadium. It was at this point a certain Mr. Mahmoud Ouaddeni of the Tunisian Federation showed up.
Our Federation had already written to CAF, who through Khalid Nassar, Deputy Director CAF competitions Division had written to the Tunisian Federation, notifying them of our arrival time, but after more than 20 minutes of waiting, the bus finally came and we departed for the stadium at about 3.20 pm.
On our way to the stadium we sensed that the movement was being stage managed when a Nigerian, Mr. Nnamdi Osuji who lives in Tunis asked the driver why was the bus going round and round the streets of Tunis rather than taking a straight route to the stadium? The Federation official, Mr. Mahmoud Ouaddeni told us that the supporters would stone us if we went straight to the stadium. We arrived the stadium at exactly 4pm and were told we had been walked over by the home team.
The Nigerian ambassador, Dr. Joseph Apeh Omede who was also aware of our arrival was at the stadium ahead of us trying to hold grounds for us.
After this purported walk over, we noticed that there was no hotel reservations made for us as it is the duty of the host club to make those provisions. Instead the host team directed that we should be taken back to the airport from the stadium.
It took the intervention of our ambassador in Tunis, who pressed for them to obey the rules which allows us reasonable time in the country.
From these, it is obvious that the walk over was not only calculated to undermine the efforts of Dolphins FC and Nigeria by extension but done in bad faith by the match officials in collusion with both the host club and the Tunisian Federation.
It is not true that Dolphins did not travel for the game as is being speculated in some sections of the media.
It is also not true that Dolphins were stranded in Dubai and thus didn’t make it to Tunisia.
The team arrived late in Tunisia but in good time to play the game if not for the antics and shenanigans of the home team and Federation.