Nigerian U-17 World Cup Team
Details have emerged of how Abba Bichi, son of the Director General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, was smuggled into the Golden Eaglets squad at the ongoing Brazil 2019 U-17 World Cup squad.
SaharaReporters' investigations showed that the Golden Eaglet’s coach, Manu Garba, was coerced into selecting DSS boss' son even though the lad was said not to be good enough for the team.
Some highly ranked officials of the Nigeria Football Federation had called Garba while he was in Brazil preparing for the tournament with his team. He was asked to drop one of the players for Bichi’s son.
He initially rejected the directive but later succumbed to pressure amidst threats.
A source in the Golden Eaglets camp in Brazil confirmed to SaharaReporters that Garba dropped Ogaga Oduko to include the 15-year-old Bichi in the list submitted to FIFA.
“Oduko had been with the team since the time of the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Tanzania. He was also with the team during the preparatory tour of Turkey and we all see his overall contribution to the team.
“We were surprised when he was dropped in the final squad list and saw the name of Abba Bichi included,” sources told SaharaReporters.
Bichi said to be based in China “was never part of the team".
"We do not know much about him until his shock inclusion in the team," SaharaReporters was told.
"He was not part of the squad when the team played the tournament in Tanzania."
A source further disclosed: “What made his inclusion strange was that we were all in Brazil when he came into camp to join the team. He was introduced as the new player and Oduko was told that he would not be partaking in the competition.
“Oduko was told to stay in Brazil instead of going back to Nigeria and the young lad was helpless."
The DSS boss' son was an unused substitute in Nigeria’s first two matches played by the Golden Eaglets in the tournament against Hungary and Ecuador, which Nigeria won.
Another reliable source familiar with the issue disclosed that the coach did not confidence in the DSS boss' son's ability, as he had not seen him in action before he joined the team in Brazil.
The source said, “Bichi, the DSS DG’s son might not play for the team because the coaching crew cannot vouch for his ability. You can see that he was not featured in the game even though he was listed in the squad.”
“We may not get to see him play a crucial part in the tournament except in games that the team does not place importance on.”
According to FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 regulations, the final list of 21 players must be selected from the provisional squad list of 50 players.
The guideline also stated that any addition or changes that must be made to the team list must be within the provisional squad submitted by the coach.
Bichi’s name is conspicuously missing from the provisional squad, as he was never part of the team prior to his inclusion.
“Each participating member association shall submit a provisional list online of a minimum of 22 players and a maximum of 50 players (a minimum of four of whom shall be goalkeepers) to FIFA, accompanied by a copy of the passport of each player appearing on the list. The provisional list shall be submitted to FIFA by the deadline stipulated in the relevant circular letter.
“The final list of the 21 players (three of whom shall be goalkeepers) selected to participate in the World Cup shall be submitted online by the stipulated deadline. A signed copy of this list must also be sent to FIFA by the same deadline. All information requested online about the players should be duly completed.
“The players on the final list must be chosen from the players on the provisional list. Only the 21 players on the final list will be permitted to take part in the final competition,” says the FIFA guideline.
The provisional list of players submitted by Coach Garba to FIFA in August are included Sunday Steven, Suleiman Shuaibu, Joseph Oluwabusola, Zubair Suleiman, Moses Aluko, Anthony Okoronkwo (goalkeepers); (defenders) Etim Charles, Ogaga Oduko, Ferdinand Clement, David Ishaya Akulo, Shedrack Tanko, Mayowa Abayomi, Kelvin Agho, Dahiru Yusuf, Adeniyi Timilehin, Ismaila Salaudeen, Usman Mohammed, and Emeka Egbu.
There were also Samson Tijani, Alfred Olaniyan, Ibrahim Jabaar, Fawaz Abdullahi, Shuaibu Abdulrazak, Peter Agba, Muyideen Oyindamola, Suleiman Lawal, Longbak Kling Shak, Damilola Adeyeye, Ajir Sesugh, and Gotee Ntignee (midfielders).
Others were Akinkunmi Amoo, Olakunle Olusegun, Wisdom Ubani, Divine Nwachukwu, Mubarak Gata, Adrien Akande, Etim Friday Ubi, Haruna Lawal, Egesionu Suporu, Sunusi Ibrahim, Samson Komolafe, Ismail Ayodele, Ogunkoya Paul, Iniobong Okon, Opeyemi Qudus, Tobi Adeleke, Oluebube Oguduba, Usman Abba, Odeh David Emeka, Gideon Okon Asuquo, Bashar Issa Olatunji, and Mohammed Dikko (forwards).
Meanwhile, the NFF claimed that Oduko was not dropped for Bichi’s son, refusing to clear the air on his sudden inclusion in the squad.
“Bichi is a striker; Oduko is a left-back. Oduko was dropped for Charles Etim. Oduko was the player that lost the kick in the shootout with Guinea in the semifinals of the U17 AFCON in Tanzania, which condemned Eaglets to the third-place match,” said NFF media officer, Demola Olajire
Meanwhile, the Golden Eaglets have secured qualification to the Round 16 of the tournament after bagging six points in their first two group matches.
The Golden Eaglets defeated Hungary 4-2 in their opening Group B and also recorded a 3-2 win over Ecuador.