Why Nigeria fielded ineligible player against Algeria, Pinnick explains

December 13, 2017 4:29 pm

Amaju Pinnick, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, has apologised over the fielding of an ineligible player in the World Cup qualifier against Algeria.

Shehu Abdullahi, the player in question, had received two yellow cards prior to the Algeria match, thereby making him ineligble but he went ahead to play.

FIFA fined Nigeria N2m and deducted the point secured from the match while three points and three goals were awarded to Algeria.

Had the Super Eagles not already garnered enough points to qualify for the World Cup before the match, it may have cost Nigeria its participation in the tournament.
Taking responsibility for the error, Pinnick on Wednesday took to Twitter to explain how the error occurred.

“While accepting the Federation’s fault here, let me quickly explain how this went by unnoticed. It doesn’t change the fact that we didn’t keep our eyes on the ball and will help us in our planned restructuring of the Technical & Competitions Department,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Shehu Abdullahi got his first yellow card in our very first preliminary match against Swaziland away. When the draws for the Group Stages were made, the Technical staff made a grave error; assumption.

“To be fair to them, through out the qualifying series, official match documents didn’t even show that Shehu Abdullahi was on a yellow card. For instance, when we played Cameroon, Mikel, Moses and Balogun were put on notice that they had yellow cards.

“Team meetings were even held about how to handle their cards so they wouldn’t miss crucial games. Shehu Abdullahi was never in the mix. Shehu then recieved a yellow against Zambia in our penultimate game, two years after the Swaziland match.

“Another grave mistake then occurred. Fifa sent an email to the technical officer in charge, that Shehu Abdullahi was suspended for the Algeria match. In a twist of fate, that officer was in hospital, with a severe heart condition, battling for his life.

“The biggest knock to our system is the fact that his official correspondences should have been forwarded to more than one person. It wasn’t. We went into our last match not knowing about Fifa’s notice. Not acceptable, I agree, but these are the facts of the matter.

“On the match day, we were unaware, the match officials were unaware and our opponents were unaware. It was a horrendous error and we at the Federation are truly apologetic.”

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