National U-20 coach John Obuh
*As team departs for Egypt for friendlies
By Olawale Ajimotokan
National U-20 coach John Obuh’s personal problem with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) resulted in his failure to travel with the Flying Eagles to Cairo, Egypt where the team will play friendly matches before going to Algeria for the Africa Youth Championship.
The Africa Youth Championship is scheduled to hold between March 16 and March 30 in the North African country.
The team left the shores of the country Monday afternoon without its chief coach who refused to board the flight after he was checked in.
Obuh was at the NFF secretariat Monday night to press for his backlog of unpaid salaries running back as far back as 2009.
Spokesman of the NFF board, Emeka Inyama had told reporters that the said money would be paid into Obuh’s account by last week Friday.
The coach alleged that he decided to find out for himself at the NFF office after his account was not credited as at Monday.
The coach said that he was left with no option than to take his issues with the NFF to the public domain if the salary pile up is not cleared by today (Tuesday).
“I am dealing with the issue as an in house matter, but will probably go public on Tuesday if my problem is not fixed by today (yesterday)” he told reporters.
It is understood that Obuh who is on N600,000 salary per month, had not been paid for the last four months, in addition to several months in 2009, putting his unpaid indemnity to 14 months.
The coach who led Nigeria to victory at the last African U-20 Championship said he would hop into a flight and join his team in Cairo, Tuesday once his dispute with the NFF was resolved.
Earlier before Monday’s U-turn by Obuh, a 30-man provisional squad for the AYC had been selected by the former Golden Eaglets coach.
Media Officer of the Flying Eagles, Samm Audu, Obuh confirmed four foreign-based players as part of the 30-man squad, from where the final 21-man squad for the competition would be picked.
“This means that all the invited 30 will be eligible for selection for the list that will be submitted to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) not later than March 6,’’ Audu further stated.
The four foreign-based players include Mikel Agu of FC Porto of Portugal and Saliu Sodiq of FC Metz of France, Bright Osagie of Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg and Edafe Egbedi of AGF Aarhus of Denmark.
The other 26 players were drawn from the Nigerian domestic league.
The 30-man squad has goalkeepers Emmanuel Daniel, Jonah Usman and Samuel Okani.
It also has defenders Chizoba Amaefule, Shehu Abdullahi, Ikechukwu Okorie, Kingsley Madu, Hassan Abubakar, Ekoh Oke, Aliyu Mohammed and Aigbe Oliha.
The midfielders on the list include: Chidi Osuchukwu, Abduljeleel Ajagun, Uche Agbo, Ibrahim Aliyu, Nzube Anaezemba, Moses Orkuma, Ovbokha Agboyi, Oluwaseun Taro, Okechukwu Azubuike, Saliu Sodiq and Mikel Agu.
Strikers named in the squad are: Alhaji Gero, Umar Aminu, Christian Pyagbara, Harrison Egbune, Bright Ejike, Edafe Egbedi, Yahaya Adamu and Bright Osagie.
Nigeria had won the competition’s last edition in South Africa two years ago, and will be aiming for a repeat in Algeria. In addition, it will be aiming to qualify from the competition for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey later in the year.