By Ajibola Abayomi,
December 13, 2017
Nigeria has been stripped of the one point it earned in a 1-1 draw against Algeria in their last Group B World Cup qualifier match in Constance on November 10, after FIFA awarded the match to Algeria 3-0, because the Super Eagles fielded an ineligible player, Shehu Abdullahi.
As part of the sanction, FIFA also fined the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, 6,000 Swiss Francs (roughly N2, 162, 923).
Abdullahi, the Anorthosis Famagusta right-back, failed to serve a one-match suspension after being cautioned in two separate games during the qualifiers.
The Super Eagles still topped the group but will now have 13 points from five games while Algeria finished bottom of the group. Luckily for Nigeria, the points’ deduction will not affect their place in Russia 2018.
“The match is declared to be forfeited and awarded 3-0 in favour of Algeria, with the NFF also receiving a fine of CHF6, 000. This sanction bears no impact on the final result of the preliminary competition for the FIFA World Cup since Nigeria had already qualified (and Algeria eliminated) before the match took place,” FIFA said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, President Amaju Pinnick has ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the embarrassing incident which could have cost Nigeria a slot in the finals.
“We accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria,” the NFF said in a statement.
Spokesman for the federation Ademola Olajire, said Pinnick “has directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with”.
“This is a grave error and somebody must be punished,” Olajire quoted the NFF boss as saying in a statement on Tuesday.
“We apologise to Nigerians for this and assure that this will not in any way derail or even distract us in our well-laid plan to ensure that the Super Eagles have a great outing in Russia.
“At the same time, I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip-up would not be given just a slap on the wrist. We are actually looking at a re-organisation of the technical department.”