The profile of the country’s referees has continued downward slide as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced a list of 85 referees for a preparatory course ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations without a single Nigerian in the mix.
In the list released by the continental soccer ruling body yesterday, it was total blackout for Nigerian referees. At the last edition in Cameroon, Samuel Pwaduta was the only Nigerian list amongst the 31 assistant referees on duty while there was non in the 24-man list that were at the centre.
In the upcoming tournament scheduled to kick off next January in Cote d’ Ivoire, those listed were to take care as centre referees, assistant referees, video assistant referees (VAR), technical instructors, physical trainers, VAR technicians and IT support.
It was officials from Egypt and Algeria that dominated with highest number of referees with three each while four VAR referees were selected from Mauritius, South Africa, Morocco and Egypt.
Seven technical instructors and physical trainers were from Zimbabwe, Burundi, Cote d’ Ivoire, Senegal, Morocco and Djibouti..
At the 2019 edition in Egypt which had 26 referees and 31 assistants, no Nigerian referee was selected but Abel Baba made his cut as assistant referee in the 2017 edition while Peter Edibe was on the list at the 2015 and 2013 editions. In the last six editions, only three Nigerians have made the list, which speaks volume of how little Nigerian referees count when it comes to reckoning with them for continental duties.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are among the 24 teams that will compete for the 2023 AFCON title. Cote d’Ivoire will host the competition from January 13 to February 11, 2024.