Vanguard (Lagos)

23 May 2003

Nigeria: Jamaica Threatens, NAN Succumbs, Eagles Fly to Kingston

Jamaica have insisted that Eagles must be in their country this Sunday for the friendly international match and they have had their way.

They simply did it by threatening to involve world football governing body, FIFA. And rather than being in the bad books of FIFA and other associations, Taiwo Ogunjobi, the NFA Secretary-General ordered Christian Chukwu to pick any available player and proceed to Kingston, Jamaica. And they left last night hoping to prove their strength in London.

Ogunjobi had considered calling off the match Wednesday after most of the invited players informed that they would no longer be available for the match. As at yesterday, it was not possible to include local players because UK visas would have to be procured for them. All the local players whose clubs have continental assignments next week were left out. And they form the bulk of the home-based Eagles.

The Eagles would stay in London before moving to Jamaica. Chukwu is hoping to throw the camp open in England to have at least 15 players before leaving for Jamaica.

"It is a messy situation and we are now just making contacts to see if we could make a team," Chukwu said.

"We had planned to use different players for different matches. That was why we left out some players because of the Four-nation tournament and the Nations Cup qualifier against Malawi. Now almost all the players invited have declined due to club assignments. If they did this last week, we would have reorganized and included more local players. Now, we are leaving tonight and the ones we would have included don't have UK Visa where we would connect flight to Jamaica. When we get to London, I'll make calls to see if Nigerian players there can join us and get visas at the point of entry. We have contacted Ademola Bankole so that we will have a reserve keeper. We have contacted Daniel Shittu of Queens Park Rangers and they have told Effe Sodje to report too," Chukwu said.

And in Ukraine, NFA was trying to reach out to Garba Lawal to contact Justice Christopher to come down to London. Nwankwo Kanu said he was available and added that he would bring his younger brother Ogbonnaya Kanu for the match.

Jamaica had vowed to file a case against Nigeria in FIFA, claiming heavy damages if Nigeria failed to report for the match. Tickets have been sold out and debts incurred. They bluntly said no to NFA's request for another date. They had there way and on Sunday, a makeshift team of the Eagles will play Jamaica in Kingston.

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