- Sodiq Lawal
The Nigeria Referees Association has noted that the referees in the country can compete with any referee in the world but the current crop of referees is not like the ones the country used to have.
OSUN DEFENDER recalls that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) stunned most Nigerian football enthusiasts by excluding Nigerian referees from the 85 referees shortlisted for a preparatory course ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The shortlisted officials comprise 32 centre referees, 33 assistant referees, and four VAR officials; eight technical and physical instructors among others, according to a CAF statement issued on Tuesday, September 12.
This is the second time in a row that CAF has snubbed Nigerian referees for major roles ahead of the continental competition.
Recall that in the last edition of the tournament, CAF only picked one Nigerian referee Samuel Pwadutakam out of 63 match officials. He served as an assistant referee during the tournament.
Meanwhile, while reacting to the development, the president of the Nigerian Referees Association (NRA) Sanni Zubair, lamented the exclusion of Nigerian Referees but noted that with the ongoing efforts, the NRA would soon bridge the gap.
“In terms of performance, Nigerian referees are equal to any referee in the world. We have been watching and projecting the younger referees, some of them are now badged as FIFA referees and we have been moving on with them”, Zubair told Punch.
“There is a sort of gap between the ones we had before and now, and that is what we are trying to fill up”, he said.