NTDC Director General, Chief Olusegun Runsewe
Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Chief Olusegun Runsewe, has urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to protest the antics of the Kenyan national team – the Harambee Stars – during last weekend’s World Cup qualifying match against the Super Eagles in Calabar.
The Kenyans failed to properly inform the NFF of their travel schedule ahead of their arrival in the country contrary to world soccer governing body, FIFA, stipulation.
They also resorted to blackmailing Nigeria by crying out on arrival at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos that they were abandoned. They also reportedly filed a protest to FIFA.
“Do they expect to just fly into the country anytime they liked and be flown straight to Calabar? Things must be properly structured,” he said.
Runsewe, a football buff, sports sponsor and a patron of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), who has been using sports to boost Nigerian tourism, said the Kenyans apparently employed the “dirty tricks” to prepare an alibi for the loss they expected to suffer in the match.
He said: “they also wanted to disorient our players and disorganise the NFF before the match.” According to him, they might have succeeded in a way “because attention was focused on what the Kenyans were saying and the mind game they were playing.”
The NTDC boss said though sports ought to be fair a fair deal, the Kenyans employed unfair tactics which they almost got away with.
He added: “they almost won the match but for the fighting spirit of our boys which produced the last minute equaliser in a match we ought to have won fair and square.”
Runsewe recalled that Nigeria had almost always beaten Kenya in football.
“In 13 previous encounters, before the weekend’s World Cup qualifier, we had beaten them in 11 matches. They could only record two drawn games, so, what was the basis of their antics if not to unsettle us?” he queried.
The sports loving tourism chief urged the NFF not only to protest to FIFA but to work harmoniously with the Stephen Keshi- led technical crew to qualify Nigeria for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Runsewe said “the antics of the Kenyans also portrayed Nigerians as an inhospitable people whereas it is not so. I would not want them to show us in such a negative manner before the international community at a time Nigerian tourism is getting the right attention which is sure to take it to an enviable height.”