Nigeria has withdrawn from the 2014 African Nations Cup soccer qualifiers because of financial constraints. The West African country was scheduled to meet Ivory Coast in Calabar in June.
“We have a lot of financial commitments and we have to look at the competitions in order of importance,” said the country’s soccer federation board member Emeka Inyama.
The reigning African champions, Nigeria has failed to qualify for the previous two continental championships.
In another move aimed at slashing costs, the Nigerian Soccer Federation has cut salaries and bonuses for their players and coaches.
The federation’s technical committee has recommended that the Super Eagles’ win bonus of $10,000 be reviewed downwards along with the salaries and allowances of the various national team coaches, excluding coach Stephen Keshi.
“We have talked about auditing of staff of the national teams, especially backroom staff as well as pegging of bonuses and allowances,” Inyama said. “We have a contract with coach Stephen Keshi and must respect that, so he won’t be affected in any way. However, we are constrained to do this as a result of our poor finances and we believe that Nigerians understand we have to do this. It’s very important for us in order to continue to fulfill our obligation of presenting the national teams for international competitions and tournaments.”
The soccer federation also plans to restructure its staffing positions. It has a total of five coaches and 17 administrative staff.
The Ivory Coast is Africa’s top ranked soccer team.
In the International Soccer Federation’s (FIFA) latest rankings, Ivory Coast is ranked 12th in the world.
Ghana is Africa’s second-ranked team followed by Mali, Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.
Spain is the world’s leading side ahead of Germany and Argentina. Brazil is the world’s 19th ranked country.
And, Irishman Jonathan McKinstry – he has no previous coaching experience in Africa – has replaced Sweden’s Lars Mattson as Sierra Leone’s coach. He will be in charge of the country’s remaining 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Sierra Leone’s acting sports director Alphan Coker said McKinstry will be considered for the job on a permanent basis if he does well against Tunisia, Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea.
“We decided to appoint McKinstry because he has a good CV (curriculum vitae) and understands Sierra Leone soccer as he’s been in the country for a while now,” said Coker. “We believe he’s a good choice.”