In reaction to barrage of attacks and criticisms that followed on its earlier decision to retain the banned coach of the U-23 coach, Salisu Yusuf last week, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF has backtracked on the decision and now allowed senses of reasoning to prevail by letting Imama Amakpakabo to oversee the affairs of the team, at least in the meantime.
Salisu Yusuf was banned for one year from football-related activities by the NFF after the former home-based Eagles coach was caught on camera by an investigative journalist collecting $1000 bribe to feature two players in the CHAN final last year against Morocco with a view to receiving 15% share of their sign on fees.
In a desperate move to still retain Yusuf in his position one year after serving his ban for receiving bribe, the NFF had directed the Coach of the U-23 team, Imama Amapakabo to handover to Mr Yusuf with immediate effect.
In a release on September 12, 2019, the NFF through the Secretary-General, Sanusi Mohammed had thanked Imama Amapakabo and his wards for doing the nation proud by beaten Sudan 5-0 in the return leg to qualify for the U-23 AFCON championship holding in Egyptyin November.
But the last two paragraphs was what sent the football wave in the country on high voltage when it said “Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation has noted that the Chief Coach of the Super Eagles, Salisu Yusuf has now fully served the one-year suspension clamped on him last year.
The Federation thanked Coach Imama Amapakabo for his sterling efforts while in charge of the U-23 National Team in the absence of the suspended Yusuf, and for eventually seeing to the team’s qualification for the U-23 AFCON.”
Expectedly, the decision did not go down well with Nigeria football followers who saw it as glorification of crime and a dent on the already battered image of the federation and called for a reversal.
In a last minute retreat to save its face, the federation in a release on Tuesday, 17 September, 2019 directed that Imama Amapakabo, “will lead the Home-based Super Eagles, known as Eagles B, to Lome on Friday for the first leg of a 2020 African Nations Championship qualifying fixture against the Sparrow Hawks coming up on Sunday.
“As a way of preparing the U-23 boys for the 3rd U-23 AFCON finals holding in Egypt from 8th-22nd November (for which the team qualified after defeating Libya and Sudan in qualifiers), the Nigeria Football Federation has decided that the U-23 squad, without the overseas-based players but with a number of home –based Trojans added, prosecute the CHAN qualifying fixture.”