Denmark thrashed the Eagles at France'98
By Tunde Sulaiman
Early in the week news broke on a football website indicating that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had gone ahead to play the Super Eagles full match bonuses for games they did not win.
On first reading the report would not have raised much ruckus. However, in the wider scope of things the report was potentially very explosive.
According to the football website, the Glass House paid the players $10, 000 for draws against Rwanda and Malawi as the Super Eagles pushed for a place in next January’s African Cup of Nations finals in South Africa.
But all along it has been common knowledge that the players should have received $5, 000, which has traditionally been given for draws.
Acutely aware of what the potential for the report to cause them much heartache, the Glass House went into overdrive in pouring cold water on the report.
This is what NFF spokesman, Ademola Olajire had to say: “There is no truth in the story that we paid the team full bonus for matches they drew because in the first place, we do not have the money to even do so.
“The team therefore received what was due as bonuses based on the results they recorded.”
While not trying to question the veracity or otherwise of the Glass House defence, unfortunately previous incidents involving the football house and their players mean that there will always be room for conspiracy theories – especially as concerns the NFF.
At France’98 the Eagles lost their final Group D match against Paraguay but still progressed having won their first two games.
Having lost the game the Eagles did not receive a dime. However, the players got their money when they arm twisted the federation in paying them their bonuses before suffering a 4-1 humiliation in the Round of 16 to Denmark!
Before then at USA’94, the Eagles shifted the goalposts when they forced the Glass House to revise their bonuses upward before they played Italy in the second round.
In an effort to spur the Eagles to qualify for South Africa 2010, the Presidential Task Force offered the players a hefty financial incentive – double the bonus the federation would give them.
So with a history of money playing a big part in the national team setup its little wonder why many believe the website report despite the strenuous denial of the NFF.
Ironically though, as has been the tradition in Nigeria, no feathers will be ruffled because of the report so long as the Eagles qualify for SA 2013
What a ‘Super Saturday’ to Look Forward to
CAPTION: Arsenal versus Chelsea is the pick of the weekend
If last weekend was ‘Super Sunday’ in view of the teams involved in the Premier League that day, this weekend it is the turn of ‘Super Saturday’ with some tantalising fixtures on offer.
For the second straight weekend, Arsenal will be involved in another high profile game when they host European champions, Chelsea at the Emirates in the lunch time kick off, while ‘Super Saturday’ action then heads to the north east of England where Tottenham Hotspur face Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Last Sunday, the Gunners clearly laid down a marker that perhaps this is their season with their performance against EPL champions, Manchester City.
Arsenal of old may have imploded after going behind against the run of play, but instead, with former skipper Steve Bold by his side, Arsene Wenger’s side rose to the occasion and promptly equalised – in truth they could and should have even won had Yao Gervinho been more clinical in front of goal!
The draw meant that the Gunners remained unbeaten after five games and will be in buoyant mood against Chelsea, which although on top of the table, are yet to really light up the league.
They will face a real stern test against an Arsenal side, which is playing arguably the best football in this early stage of the league.
However, while the Blues might not yet be firing on all cylinders, they do have a number of players that can cause damage if given the chance. Brazilian youngster, Oscar, Edem Hazard and Super Eagles winger, Victor Moses are all capable of causing problems for the Gunners.
On their part, the home team can call on Santi Cazorla, whose range of passing is breathtaking, German ace, Lukas Podolski and the ever tricky Gervinho. With such players on display the Emirates is in for an afternoon of stunning football.
Old Trafford may not see the kind of football that the Emirates will later Saturday evening, but with Alex Ferguson demanding improvement from his side after United’s ‘lucky escape’ at Anfield last Sunday, fans should see a more determined Red Devils on display.
United will have to be at their best against an evolving Spurs side, which is still striving to find its feet under new manager, Andre Villas-Boas.
The London outfit can still spring a shock especially against a United that is yet to find its feet five games into the new season.
However, whatever the outcome of these and the other games being played this weekend, lovers of the English game should be in for another treat.
Arsenal v Chelsea (12:45)
Everton v Southampton (15:00)
Fulham v Man City (15:00)
Norwich v Liverpool (15:00)
Reading v Newcastle (15:00)
Stoke v Swansea (15:00)
Sunderland v Wigan (15:00)
Man Utd v Tottenham (17:30)
Aston Villa v West Brom (16:00)