There are strong indications that the rescheduled kick off date planned for the Super 8 Tournament in Aba may not be feasible after all despite plans by the Nigerian Professional Football League to kick off its season on January 13.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had on Monday accepted the request of the Nigerian National League (NNL) to move the kick off of the Super 8 forward from January 3 to January 5 to enable all the eight teams enough time to get to Aba for the play off to determine the four teams to be promoted to the topflight.
As at Wednesday night, all seem to be going on well following the acceptance of the formal letter written by NNL’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Lawrence Katken by the NFF leadership.
However, THISDAY checks yesterday revealed that most of the clubs, especially the five teams that aborted the initial date of the play off have no travel plans for the event,
The five ‘stay away clubs’ namely; Shooting Stars of Ibadan, Bendel Insurance of Benin, Remo Stars of Sagamu, Kada FC of Kaduna and Kogi United of Lokoja have no plans to be in Aba for tomorrow’s kick off of the Super 8.
Even the three teams that were in Aba for the initial date, Delta Force, Real Stars and Gombe United are yet to get the N2million reimbursement promised them by the NFF to take care of their travel costs.
“As this afternoon (Thursday) there is no plan that our team will travel out of our base but I am aware of high level consultation between NFF, NNL and all the participating clubs and whatever comes out of the meeting, I don’t think the Saturday date can work considering the fact that the event is not a friendly or pre-season tournament but a promotion tournament which is the reason for our reward for a whole season,” a top official of one of the clubs said on telephone with THISDAY last night.
Another official of one of the ‘aggrieved’ Five Clubs even explained further that during normal league season, the players are programmed with their diet and social live monitored but all that is absent now as teams are just returning to camp from the long recess.
“ What that means is that it will take some time before our players attain match fitness level. So how do you expect us to just rush into Aba and get involved in a competition for the promotion to the topflight,” stressed the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
While all the clubs are monitoring the high wired meetings that are ongoing, investigation also revealed that all the clubs are also monitoring one another so as not to be schemed out. Only four out of eight teams will gain promotion into the elite division.
All efforts to reach the Media Officer of the NNL, Amar Ignis, to confirm teams already on ground in Aba proved abortive as calls to all his lines were not successful.
The League Management Company (LMC) Chairman, Shehu Dikko insisted on Monday that the 2018/19 football season will kickoff on schedule 13th January 13.