P.M. News (Lagos)

24 August 2000

Nigeria: Controversial Furo Makes U-23 Team

Lagos — Contrary to the expectations of many soccer followers in the country, Super Eagles' controversial defender, Furo Iyenemi has been named by Technical Adviser, Johannes Bonfrere as one of the under-aged players of the national Under-23 team billed to compete in the soccer event of next month's Sydney 2000 Olympics.

According to the final 22-man team list made available to P.M. Sport yesterday by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) spokesman, Austin Mgbolu, the Antwerp of Belgium's new signing, despite his age controversy, made the team as one of the 19 under-aged players.

Mgbolu, speaking on the inclusion of Iyenemi who stirred a protest from the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) during the Olympic qualifiers, disclosed that the defender was still eligible to play in the Olympics, having been cleared of any age discrepancies by the world soccer body, FIFA. The NFA image maker stressed further that he had no doubt in his mind about the eligibility of the former F.C. Scion of Switzerland defender, adding that he had been given the green light by FIFA.

However, some pundits argued that Iyenemi should not have been selected as an under-aged player since a protest had already been lodged against him. They contend that the team's technical adviser, Bonfrere, should have included him as one of the over-aged players to avoid any unnecessary controversy which could mar the country's chances of defending the gold medal it won in Atlanta '96.

Meanwhile, the duo of Garba Lawal and Godwin Okpara who were recently invited to the U-23 team's camp in Holland also made the final list which was sent to the NFA yesterday by the Dutch tactician. Arsenal's Nwankwo Kanu is the third over-aged player listed for the Olympics after he agreed to join the team.

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