The 2017/2018 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) may produce champions, who may not leave up to the expectations of football fans in the 2019 CAF inter-cub competitions, according to three club bosses.
The three football administrators, including Chibuzor Etumena of Heartland, Akwa United’s Paul Bassey and Davidson Owumi of Enugu Rangers yesterday said the country may not be able to produce quality teams to feature in the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) in the Champions League and Confederation Cup from the arrangement by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and League Management Committee (LMC) to compress the remaining NPFL games from September 2 to October 28. Etuemena cited the financial implication on the club management and stress on the players to embark on long trips twice weekly to honour league matches, saying most of the clubs may not be able to present their best teams in such an arrangement.
While appreciating the intervention of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo that restored peace in Nigerian football, Etuemena said Heartland would find it extremely difficult to meet the financial implications of having to play three matches in a week, as scheduled by the LMC to ensure completion of the Premier League on October 28.
“The truth is that the crisis has already taken a toll on everyone, particularly the clubs most of who depend on monthly subventions to prosecute their games. I have to speak for Heartland FC and it is practically impossible to meet the above timetable financial-wise.
“I also do not consider it wise to subject our players to a rigorous time table as released by the LMC considering the likely medical implications because the players are human beings,” Chibuzor Etuemena said.He argued that the quality of games in the premier league would be a complete departure from what would have been displayed if normal weekend games pattern were followed.
He also posited that the clubs would find it difficult to make sufficient money from gate takings following the tight fixtures, as the spectators may not have budgeted for such. “The teams that will emerge in this hurried arrangement may not be of best quality and that we should begin to expect little from them when they represent us in CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.
“The teams would not have fortified their squads well enough; may not have carried out proper technical preparation and the players may have already become sapped of every strength going into a CAF competition,” he said, adding, “the doctrine of fire brigade approach will still be seen to pervade our football which result is surely well known and will leave us where we had been.”He believes the CAF calendar should not be the excuse to stampede cubs into playing three matches a week, advising the LMC to declare an emergency ending to the 2017/18 season and nominate the three leading teams on the table to represent Nigeria in the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup.
Akwa United Chairman, Paul Bassey said his club lacks “the financial and technical ability to play Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday, Wednesday, crisscrossing this vast country of ours. “Let us not forget the clubs that go to Maiduguri and Yobe on Sunday and cannot get back home till Tuesday evening. And add to that, Aiteo Cup. It would be Herculean, killing.”Enugu Rangers’ Owumi agrees that running three games in one week would pose enormous problem for the clubs, adding that the League Management Company (LMC) should state the level of financial assistance to the teams in the league.