Abuja - Coach Emeka Ezeugo of Abia Warriors FC on Thursday said bad officiating caused his team's 5-6 loss to Giwa FC in the final of the 2013 NNL Super Four Competition.
The final match of the competition organised by the Nigeria National League (NNL) was decided with penalties after a 1-1 draw at the end of 90 minutes of play.
Peter Onyekachi had given the Abia side the lead in the 23rd minute, before Ocheme Edo of Giwa FC levelled the score in the 75th minute.
The match was played at the FIFA Goal Project pitch of the Abuja National Stadium.
However, during the penalty shootout, the referee had ordered the replay of one of the penalty kicks by Abia Warriors, with the Umuahia-based side losing the kick.
At the end of it all, an angry Ezeugo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that bad officiating was the reason why Nigerian referees were not among their peers.
He said Nigerian referees were not appointed to officiate in FIFA competitions like their African counterparts because of incompetence.
``I don’t want to say anything about match officials in Nigeria, because the result is evident in the number of our referees that officiate in FIFA competitions.
``How many Nigerian referees officiate in FIFA games? The reasons are that they are not good enough, and that is why they don’t get called up for FIFA Grade `A’ competitions.
``They mess themselves up in the country here, and so they cannot officiate outside the shores of this country,’’ the former Super Eagles player said.
Ezeugo however commended his players’ efforts, as compared to their semi-final performance.
``They played a little better than they did in the first match, although they still need some fine-tuning ahead of the 2013/2014 season,’’ he said.
The coach however said the club would have to return to the drawing board for a better pre-season preparation.
``We need that, so as to justify our promotion into the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL),’’ he said.
On his part, coach Abdullahi Biffo of the Jos-based Giwa FC said his players’determination won the game for them.
``I told them before the beginning of this match that no matter what the result is, they should not be discouraged.
``And this is why they were able to come back into the game to equalise and eventually win the match,’’ Biffo said.
Also, the director-general of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Gbenga Elegbeleye who witnessed the final match, commended the players for the quality of play.
``I am happy with the quality of play since the competition started yesterday (Wednesday). Eventually, the best team has won.
``They displayed very good football, which is a plus for the Nigerian league, and we are looking forward to a better league next year,’’ Elegbeleye said.
Godfrey Gaiya, the Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Sports, advised the organisers to make the competition more attractive in subsequent seasons.
``They should make this competition more attractive, by taking it to where fans are willing to come out and spend a token to support good football.
``When we make it an Abuja affair, we may not be able to showcase what we have seen today to the majority of Nigerians who may not be nearby.
``So, my advice is that they should rotate between cities and really market it well, so that supporters from all background will come in,’’ Gaiya said.
NAN reports that Sikiru Kamaru of Giwa FC won the competition’s Most Valuable Player award, while Giwa FC received a cash prize of N300,000 and a trophy for emerging champions.
In the third-place match played earlier in the day, FC Taraba beat Crown FC of Ogbomoso 2-0.
NAN reports that the four teams in the 2013 NNL Super Four Competition have been promoted to the 2013/2014 NPFL season.