What is the point of the Nigerian League wonder goal?

A few days ago I received a press statement from the media department of the League Management Company, LMC who run the Nigerian League and it got me wondering.

The statement told that three players, Afolabi Abdulwaheed of Gombe United, Ayo Saka or Rivers United and Ogechukwu Leonard of Enyimba had been shortlisted for the VAT Wonder Goal Award for Match Day 20 and it got me wondering.

This morning I got another press statement saying Ayo Saka was voted winner of that Wonder Goal award and my thoughts resumed in full voice.

Do we need a Wonder goal award as against all the issues of the Nigerian League that need solving?

Of what good is this new racket to the League. I asked such questions as I read through the press statement.

The contents of the email from the League Management Company stated that “The LMC had introduced the Wonder Goal scheme to reach out to fans and enhance engagement between the clubs, the fans and the communities. The scheme has now been renamed VAT Wonder Goal after it was endorsed by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) as a platform to promote tax education and engage football fans on the necessity and benefits of paying taxes to government.

But I actually think it is more than that.

The Nigerian League needs a jerk up and anything that could give it life like a junkie injecting heroin is really needed.

It was good to see what happened when Sikiru Olatunbosun’s goal was nominated for and then won the CNN goal of the week. More attention was put on the league that can produce such goals.

I've been watching the Nigerian League weekly since the 80s and I know there are greater goals scored, most not even captured on television.

I remember Chidi Aluka scoring for Sharks against Udoji at the then Liberation Stadium in 1993. how he got the pass from around the 30 yard mark, backing the Udoji goal and defence.

Controlling the ball with his right leg and turning at the same time he, he shook off his markers and seeing the goalkeeper off his line and chipped him from distance.

That was a beauty but it was never captured on tape and only those who were privileged to be at the stadium that day can relieve the goal.

I also remember Samson Siasia scoring against Sharks for Flash Flamingos in 1986 at the Port Harcourt Temporary Stadium.

Between two defenders at the center circle a long ball came his way. Using his chest to change the direction of the ball, he left his two markers for dead, waltzing between them, he started running towards goal while his perplexed markers stood transfixed to the spot they were in.

Three seconds later it was Sharks 0-1 flash Flamingoes. Good thing Felix Beke equalised for Sharks with another wonder goal to end scores 1-1

Jonathan Zikiye’s pile driver in 2014 for Dolphins against FC Taraba United in Jalingo is also ranked up there but the problem had always been that these goals were hardly ever documented.

We only discuss these goals because were at the stadium and saw it. Some could be greatly exaggerated too.

Emem Eduok in October 2014 set a Nigerian record scoring 6 goals in one game. I doubt if any body, apart from those who were at the Stadium that day has seen those goals.

With this new initiative, we not only document the best goals in the league, we also highlight them and honour the nest of the lot.

What actually is the point of the VAT wonder goal? It is what the league needs at this point and who ever thought about it should be commended and I for one am happy with the initiative.

Amaju Pinnick and the photo shoot session

Apparently, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF president, Amaju Pinnick was in London over the weekend to watch the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal.

Not many would have known about it because Nigerians still have lots of problems to contend with than monitoring who traveled abroad and who did not, but photographs flooded social media space late on Saturday night that led to wild debates.

One of the earliest comments that started the back lash came via a whatsapp forum when a respected member of the sporting community wrote, “They were in London to watch English FA Cup but their own FA Cup is close to the grave waiting for final funeral” and then the arguments began.

Someone said they went to understudy the way the FA Cup is organised. Hmmm. Then would they just go sit in the stands for the final? I don’t think they went to understudy its organisation.

Another wondered why they would spend Federation funds on the FA Cup final when there are lots other problems with Nigerian football.

Yet another group, leaving the crux of the matter, turned the debate into whose funds where used to travel for the game and social media went full throttle most of Sunday.

But what does it really matter if Amaju Pinnick was in London for the FA Cup final with a few other friends/ members of the Football Federation.

Does it also matter if he used Football Federation funds or his?

I think it was the case of a few Nigerians who went to London to cheer and encourage their country men. It just so happened that they were not just ordinary Nigerians but key stakeholders in Nigerian football.

That game featured some Nigerians, Victor Moses for Chelsea and Alex Iwobi for Arsenal and personally I do not see anything wrong with Federation chiefs being in the stands for a game like that.

However, there is an issue of timing and perception.

Amaju Pinnick has been accused before (once or twice by me) of focusing more on diaspora affairs than what happens within the Federation he heads.

I remember some time in the past I “accused” him on a social media platform he belonged to of traveling the world over “begging” footballers with Nigerian backgrounds to play for the country but doing little or nothing to encourage those coming out of the ranks in the country.

By encouragement, I meant visiting top clubs, speaking to top players and all within the country the same way he visits those abroad.

The group that spoke against his trip to the UK for the FA final were apparently not happy that Nigeria has its own FA Cup that has gone moribund with little/ no hope in sight.

That group would wish the Federation chief took some time to get his team to revive Nigeria’s premier football competition. Since Coca Cola backed out about a decade ago the Nigerian Cup has had no sponsors and it does not seem like that would change anytime soon.

And again it does not matter if they used Federation funds or they dug out resources from their personal coffers, there would have been nothing wrong with that trip. In fact I believe there was nothing wrong with the trip, but Nigerians would wish that while those trips are being made to watch other countries’ Cup finals, the Nigerian Cup final also gets a revival.

Meanwhile, congratulations Alex Iwobi for emerging FA champion in England.

I’m sure this time next week, there will be some other trending topic from Nigerian football to talk about.

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