All does not seem well between Nigeria’s sole representative in CAF competitions, Rivers United and Nigeria’s Football governing body, the NFF as both parties are at loggerheads over the none release of CAF matchballs.
Rivers United who are campaigning in the CAF Confederation Cup complained that, with three Confederation Cup group-stage matches gone, they are yet to receive their match balls from the NFF.
They claim its been two months since CAF dispatched the official matchballs to participating clubs to each team through their football federation but they are yet to receive theirs which are part of reasons they have not been performing well in their games.
A Rivers United football club official who spoke with complete sports on the guise of anonymity said: “Every competition has its officially approved match balls. It applies to both FIFA, UEFA, CAF and even domestic league organisers.
“We don’t know what is happening that NFF are yet to deliver the balls to us so that we can train and play with them.
“When we travelled to Tunisia for the first group match against Club Africain, we traveled with our NPFL match balls only to play the match with the official match balls. It was strange to our players.
“It makes our players very cautious in kicking the ball because it appeared we had to study the ball first because it bounces faster.
“Against FUS Rabat of Morocco here in Port Harcourt, you cannot believe that we had to play with the match balls which the Moroccans came with”, said the official.
Technical Adviser of Rivers United, Stanley Eguma in his reaction to the unavailability of the official CAF Confederation Cup match ball said: “It’s sad that we find ourselves in this situation”, Eguma lamented.
“Could this be sabotage, I don’t know but it is affecting us.
“The players have not had the opportunity of training with the ball, to know how it is and all that.
“Yes, one can say a ball is a ball but then if it were so, why do FIFA, CAF, UEFA and other football bodies approve a certain match ball for certain competitions?
“This CAF match ball in question is completely different from the NPFL match balls and when your players don’t have the advantage of training with the ball or have a feel of it before games, then something is wrong and one has to ask why our consignment is not yet released to us by the NFF,” Eguma fumed.
Rivers United has so far played three games, they lost two and won one. They lie bottom of Group A with three points and will host KCAA of Uganda on June 20 in a game they must win to have any realistic chance of progressing to the next round.