By Dare Esan:
The Nigeria Football Federation's claim that the Confederation of African Football changed their qualification rules for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations midway has shown that the FA are ignorant of CAF rules on the tournament, Complete Sports can report.
The NFF had last week through a media release by Ademola Olajire and posted on their website said they were considering contesting the "sudden change of rules" after the withdrawal of Chad and had already put their lawyers to work on how they can seek legal redress against CAF.
“…our legal unit is looking at the propriety of changing the rules midstream,” the statement read in part.
Complete Sports' checks however reveal otherwise.
According to Article 61 in Chapter 27 – Forfeit, Withdrawals, Refusal to Play, Replacement of CAF's Regulations of the Africa Cup of Nations: ''If a team withdraws from the qualifying phase organised in groups, all its results shall be annulled (points, scored and conceded goals)."
Complete Sports further checks also reveal that the NFF may have based their argument on a totally different Chapter of the regulation which dealt with the Final Tournament of the competition, that is the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations which will be held in Gabon between January and February 2017.
Article 87 in Chapter 35 of the Regulation states thus: "If a team withdraws at the start of the Final Tournament without playing all the matches of its group, it shall be considered loser of all the remaining matches it was scheduled to play by the score of three to nil."
Therefore, as things stand, the NFF have no case against CAF and should start strategising for the 2019 qualifiers.