Okala, Ikpeazu, others worry over yet-to-be concluded Ananbra FA Cup




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AWKA – Green Eagles goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala and soccer fans in Anambra have expressed worries over the yet-to-be concluded Football Association (FA) Cup in the state.

They described the situation as not too good for football development in the state in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) but expressed the hope that it would not recur.

They hinged it on the crisis in the FA which pit the former Chairman, Mike Umeh against the Deputy Chairman, Jude Obikwelu, leading to faction in the association.

NAN reports that the competition which is being managed by the Nigerian Football Association (NFA)-constituted Normalisation Committee kicked off on March 23.

However, the competition which was going on in two factions was suspended on April 3 by the NFA and taken over by its Normalisation Committee which was set on April 10.

The committee was set up normalise activities in the body, especially the leadership crisis which led to the two factions setting parallel up competitions.
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Emmanuel Okala, a member of Nigeria’s Green Eagles that won the Africa Nations Cup in 1980 in Lagos, said the development was unfortunate.

Okala attributed it to the busy schedule of one the finalists, Gabros FC which is featuring in the Globacom .

He expressed the hope that it would not recur and tasked the committee to provide the needed fillip for Anambra football.

Odi Ikpeazu, the Proprietor of Ikpeazu Redoubtables FC of Onitsha, described the competition in Anambra as a sham, stressing that it was programmed to fail.

Ikpeazu, whose team was ousted in the final of the Mike Umeh-led faction by Gabros FC of Nnewi, said he was uncomfortable with the manner the committee produced the state’s two representatives for the national finals.

NAN reports that while Gabros emerged winners of the Umeh faction, Cardinal Arinze FC of Onitsha defeated Smithcity FC of Awka to win the Jude Obikwelu-led faction.

“For me, the entire was a sham; the committee has not convinced me that they know what they are doing, Anambra people are seeing things for themselves.

“The committee should do more by providing visible evidence that they are on the right path to salvaging football in Anambra because for now there is nothing to see,’’ he said.

Arthur Ebunam, a veteran footballer, said that the development was part of the manifestation of the administrative crisis in Anambra football.

Ebunam said it was sad that the state was no longer complying with the competition’s national schedule because the management of football was in the hands of those who were not passionate about its growth.

“Something must be done, Anambra people are being deprived of good football administration, it’s crazy that things are going this way, every competition must have an end,’’ he said.

A sports consultant, Akonam Obiefuna, said that though regrettable, the delay in the FA final in Anambra did not call for much for concern, adding that it could be played anytime.

Obiefuna described the situation as a peculiar one which required special treatment.

He said that it was good that Anambra had representatives at the national level in spite of the challenges.

“What makes the final very important is that it is sponsored and there is an ultimate prize to fight for.

“Also, the good thing is that we are not left out in the national competition.

“The final can come anytime, it was a unique situation, it is for peace to reign and it is a against time, so, it is not much of a problem,’’ he said.

In his reaction, the committee’s Chairman, Iloegbune Okoye, told NAN that the final would definitely be played whenever the coast was clear as Gabros was busy in the elite division.

He said the two teams at the national level, Gabros and Cardinal Arinze FC, emerged fairly and in the best interest of football in the state.

He appealed for understanding as the committee was determined to deliver on its mandate.
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