A former Minister of Sports, Bala Ka’oje, said on Saturday that Nigeria’s qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, now depends on a miracle.
Mr. Ka’oje said this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria following the 1-0 defeat of the Super Eagles by the Falcons of Sudan in a qualifying match played in Khartoum.
Sudanese striker Bakri Abdelgadir scored the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute to put Nigeria’s hope of qualifying for the AFCON 2015 scheduled for Morocco in tatters.
The result saw Nigeria slip to the bottom of Group A in the qualifying campaign after South Africa beat Congo 2-0 in Pointe-Noire in an earlier kick-off.
It was Sudan’s first win of the group and their first victory over the Super Eagles since 1967.
Mr. Ka’oje expressed regrets that Nigeria’s football was taking a nosedive rather than taking a leap from the last edition which it won.
“If we had won this match, we will have rekindled our hope but now that we lost it, our survival will be miraculous.
“I am very sad the way our football is moving; we are not consistent at all, and anything done without consistency can never move forward.
“We are facing a serious problem in terms of football development in this country, and I don’t see us recovering quickly because the problems are still hanging around.
“Those people who don’t want to see our football move forward are still around in the sector; everybody is struggling to take up the mantle of leadership,” Mr. Ka’oje said.
The former minister blamed the current leadership crisis in the NFA for the current challenges the national team faced in the qualifying campaigns.
He noted that Nigeria, as the defending champions, was supposed to be thinking of defending the title, but the reverse is now the case.
“Definitely lack of leadership will affect our performance in one way or the other because if there is leadership there will be encouragement.
“There is usually an added hope coming from the leadership unto the team but because there is no leadership, that element of support is lost.
“We will keep hoping that our team qualifies but if they fail to qualify, then, we will have to go back to the drawing board and government must face the situation squarely and put things in order,” he added.