• Tony Igele

AFCON: Nigeria's Non-Qualification Affecting Football Development

Benin – Football enthusiasts in Benin say that Nigeria’s non qualification for two consecutive editions of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is “inimical’’ to the growth of the game.

The stakeholders made the assertion while reacting to the standard of play at the ongoing AFCON in Gabon in interviews on Wednesday in Benin.

They lamented that not only have Nigeria’s non-qualification affected the country’s rating and the business aspect of the sport but has also denied the players individual and team laurels.

The fans urged the national team players to assuage the fans disappointment because of the non-qualification by securing qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

According to the Edo Football Association (FA) Chairman, Frank Ilaboya, it is a pity that Nigeria is unable to secure qualification since it lifted the cup in South Africa, 2013.

He, however, said that the team must be supported to qualify for 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“It is quite painful that as the giant of Africa, we have been missing from the two last editions of the Africa World Cup. It is really a pity that we are not in Gabon.

“For me, I think it is a good moment for us to think about the future development of the game.

“The Super Eagles are doing so well now and Nigerians need to rally round them for them to earn a World Cup slot in 2018,’’ he said.

Edema Foludu, a former Super Eagles star, urged the Eagles to use the disappointment of not qualifying for the Nation’s Cup to propel the country to World Cup in 2018.

He said that their non-qualification for the AFCON was largely responsible for why the country lost in the individual awards during the Glo CAF award night in January 2017 in Abuja.

The former Nigeria international said that the country’s absence at the Africa football fiesta was economically not good for the growth of the game.

According to him, we have large football following and the country is also losing out on points by missing out in AFCON.

“Our non-qualification can be said to be part of the reason why other Africa countries outshined us during the Glo CAF award in Abuja.’’

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