The Bet9ja Nigeria National League [NNL] Super 8 tournament is over after four days of action with a day of rest sandwiched between, but as is obtainable with any event, there are highlights and lowlights, commendations and condemnations. Naijafootballplus.com eastern correspondent, Chinatu Jon, x-rays and bares all.
First, it is a thing of joy that finally football won and the tournament was held successfully after all the bickering and going back and forth as regards the kickoff date and convincing participating teams. Credits must be given to the Nigeria football governing body, Nigeria Football Federation [NFF], for agreeing to intervene in the lingering debacle to enable a successful return of club football.
More kudos to three of the participating clubs, Gombe United, Delta Force and Real Stars for turning up twice, sadly only Gombe United got promoted, falling short of the final after being edged out by Kada City FC due to an inferior goal difference. The three teams showed commitment and regard for the development of the game in Nigeria by that singular sacrifice. We are yet to confirm if the compensation promised the three clubs have been paid them but credits must be given to them for participating.
All the participating clubs should also be commended for great sportsmanship and showmanship, putting in brilliant displays and showing the reason why they got to the brink of getting promoted. Kudos also to all the fans and journalists who made sure the tournament was publicized. You guys were so awesome that when Bendel Insurance qualified, they and the NNL Super 8 tournament trended on the Nigerian Twitter space.
It will be very out of place if there are no knocks for anyone. There were lots of shortcomings on everyone’s part, the NNL and the participating clubs alike. Let’s begin with the organizing body, the NNL, it is understandable that you were in a race against time but it is also worthy to note that football is a physical sport that requires good recuperation and fixture congestion lowers performance levels. The congested fixtures [four matches in one day for two consecutive days and four matches on the fourth day after a rest on day three. This evidently told on the players as fatigue and injuries plagued the matches.
In another development, if this tournament had been on TV, I wonder how serious it will look with teams writing player names with marker on their jerseys, as if that wasn’t enough, we saw players carrying plasters on their backs which concealed either the number, the name or both writings on the jerseys and markers were also used to write on these plasters. It is pardonable if you just go with the numbers without names on the jerseys as players were yet to be registered rather than deface the jerseys and make the tournament appear wacky.
Still on dressing, Delta Force had players wearing a different shade of the blue their teammates wore and one begins to wonder how possible it was for a team to have such a mixture of colours as a home kit. Also Bendel Insurance coach, Monday Odigie, dressed very unprofessional in the first half of his first two games hence the fine he got and that seemed to restore him to normalcy as he appeared better in subsequent matches. Coaches should learn to dress well as the dugout is actually their office and no one dresses shabbily to work in an office.
Coach Monday Odigie also shunned the media all tournament, which was a very unrespectable gesture. Tournaments are media events and if there was an official media rights owner, he will be fined for that. Kudos to Bendel Insurance chief coach and ex Nigerian international, Baldwin Bazuaye for representing his boss.
Generally, the NNL Super 8 was a success and this is saying congratulations to the winners, Kada City FC and their fellow promoted teams, Bendel Insurance FC, Gombe United FC and Remo Stars FC.