U-20 WORLD CUP FALLOUT
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Players of the national Under-20 female team, the Falconets were the victim of the cash squeeze plaguing Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as they were left stranded yesterday in their Serob Hotel in Abuja following the failure of the federation to cough out transport fares and allowances owed them.
The Falconets returned to Nigeria on Wednesday from Papua New Guinea after their early exit from the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
THISDAY learnt last night that federation officials led by General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, haggled for more time with players to raise the transport fares of N20, 000 per player but the Falconets insisted they would not vacate their hotel rooms unless they were paid all their bonuses and allowances.
Sanusi pleaded with the players to see reasons with the federation which was cash strapped and could not pay the transport fares and allowances.
THISDAY further learnt that the harsh financial times made things difficult for the team as they survived on a zero-budget in Papua New Guinea in the Pacific region.
“NFF secretary pleaded for more time to raise money for the transport fares to enable us return to our clubs. They told us that we will not be evicted from the hotels as they earlier threatened but pleaded for our understanding as there was no money to offset our bonuses and allowances for now,” one of the players who did not want her name in print confided in THISDAY yesterday.
Further checks revealed that NFF travelled to the island country without money while accounting officials meant to accompany the team on the trip were dropped at the last minute because of lack of cash.
The players complained of poor kitting as they were only provided with two top jerseys, one short and no underwear tights for the competition.
No top official of the federation was willing to speak on the matter when THISDAY sought their opinion.
“What do you want me to say? Are you a stranger to the poor funding problem we have been battling for some time now? It is only the intervention of the federal government that can bail us out of the present cash squeeze. I pray it happens before our next game against Cameroon in the World Cup 2018 qualifiers otherwise, it will not be a funny story,” laments the top federation official who spoke to us on condition of anonymity last night.