Connect with us

International Football

REMEMBERING HARUNA ILERIKA; 10 YEARS AFTER

Published

on

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

The anniversary of the opening of the National Stadium Lagos coincidentally also marks death of one of the principal characters of that occasion and an icon in Nigerian football.

It is 10 years this Tuesday that Haruna Ilerika, the diminutive left footed midfielder died. He was aged 59 at the time. He featured in the Nigeria versus Mali match when the National Stadium was opened on December 4, 1972.

Three other Nigerian players at the occasion – Skipper Godwin Achebe, later day skipper Victor Oduah and first scorer at the arena, Yakubu Mambo – have also died.

Haruna Ilerika was iconic as a school boy sensation and got cheering crowd enthralled with his scintillating dribbling skills and superb ball control.

His diminutive stature belied his immense dribbling skills. Ilerika stunned opponents with soccer artistry as a one-man artist. He combined a rare alertness of thoughts, fleetness of feet, dazzling close ball control and body-swerving dummies.

Advertisement

He established himself as fast bustling skills which he showcased when Nigeria won the football gold medal at the 1973 All Africa Games in Lagos.

Another memory of his skills was the two equalizing goals he scored against Egypt at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia.

So graceful was he on the pitch that an Ethiopian lady admired him and gave him her necklace as the Nigerian team sat in the bus on their way out of the stadium.

His career started at Zumrattul Islammiyah Grammar School where in combination with equally small-stature Tajudeen Ajagun they formed ‘terrible twins’ of the then exciting Lagos Principals’ Cup.

Ilerika had his first club experience with a relatively unknown Patterson Zachonis (PZ) before joining Metal Construction FC and later moved to the better established Stationery Stores.

Advertisement

The short schemer easily gained a place in the star-studded Stores in March 1971.

The following year, he was invited to the national team and easily impressed with his dribbling skill as he made a debut in the away friendly match with Mali on November 22, 1972.

He played 30 times for the Nigerian national team, the last match being the goalless encounter with Sierra Leone on October 16, 1976 in Freetown.

His skills at the 2nd All Africa Games in January 1973 got him a place in the continental assembly put together by CAF under the tutelages of Coach Charles Kofi Gymfi of Ghana and Rachid Mekhloufi of Algeria in the Afro-Latin America duel in 1973.

A sort of parallel can be made between Ilerika and another Nigerian football icon, Tesilimi ‘Thunder’ Balogun.

Advertisement

Ilerika was born in 1949, the year Balogun made his international debut for Nigeria. Balogun died in 1972, the year Ilerika made his international debut for Nigeria.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

International Football

New twist in Cameroon football coach crisis

Published

on

BY KUNLE SOLAJA

The coaching crisis in Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions has taken a new dimension as the football federation, FECAFOOT, led by former international, Samuel Eto’o goes in direct confrontation with the coaching crew appointed by the sports ministry which also picks the bills.

  According to a Cameroon official who will not like to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, the claims and counter claims of both the sports ministry and the FECAFOOT led by Eto’o had been heard and decided by the conciliation and arbitration chamber of the Cameroonian national Olympic committee, which is a court in charge of sports cases in Cameroon.

  “What is in contention is not the position of the Belgian coach, Marcc Brys, but that of the Cameroonian assistants attached to him.”

  The source explained to Sports Village Square that although the employment of Brys by the sports ministry was initially contested by Eto’o, the former player has come to accept the situation.

Advertisement

  “In Cameroon, there is always a techenical crew of nine to 11. The foreign coach is allowed to bring in two foreign assistants, while the others are always Cameroonians.

  In this case, the sports ministry approved the list of two foreign assistants by Brys while also announcing another set of local assistants that included former international, François Omam-Biyik, one of the stars of Italia ‘90  and the scorer of the goal that gave Cameroon a 1-0 win over a Diego Maradona-inspired  Argentina.

  “That is where the problem is. FECAFOOT also submitted a list of technical crew that included Brys and his two foreign assistants but dropped the names of the local assistants with new ones.”

  In essence, there are two lists with both having three names as same, but differ on the rest.

 According to the source, the list submitted by the sports ministry was upheld by the tribunal which threw aside that of FECAFOOT.

Advertisement

  In another twist, FIFA has already removed the name of Marc Brys from the profile of Cameroon on its website. Only the name of national women’s coach, Jean-Baptiste Bisseck is listed.

The removal of Brys’ name is happening a second time as it was first removed at the end of last month before being reinstated.

Continue Reading

International Football

Cameroon’s appointment of Brys as manager suspended by sports tribunal

Published

on

Marc Brys

Cameroon’s appointment of Belgian Marc Brys as head coach was suspended by the country’s top sports tribunal on Tuesday following the petition of an amateur football club.

The country’s sports ministry stirred controversy last month when it named 61-year-old Brys as manager of the Indomitable Lions without consulting the football federation (FECAFOOT).

The move sparked a dispute between the sports ministry and FECAFOOT, which said the government had made a unilateral decision.

In response, it asked its president Samuel Eto’o to propose a national coach and other management staff for the national side within 72 hours, deepening its standoff with the sports ministry.

Eto’o kept Brys as head coach but named different assistants, technical, medical and administrative staff.

Advertisement

An amateur club, meanwhile, took the matter to the Arbitration and Conciliation Chamber of the Cameroon National Olympic and Sports Committee.

In a provisional ruling on Tuesday, the court suspended the FECAFOOT appointments while it fully examined the matter. Concerned parties have 24 hours to appeal.

FECAFOOT in response said it “reserves the right to refer these decisions to FIFA, as they hinder the preparation process for the forthcoming sport events.

“The Emergency Committee of FECAFOOT will meet immediately to take appropriate measures,” it said in a statement.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has strict rules against government interference in national federations and has frequently banned countries when governments get involved in federation affairs.

Advertisement

The president of the Cameroon Association of Amateur Football Clubs, Balla Ongolo Henri, had previously said Eto’o’s appointments would damage Cameroon’s image and disrupt preparations for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers next June.

Brys, 61, penned a contract on May 8 as head coach of the Indomitable Lions following the dismissal of Rigobert Song in February. FECAFOOT did not attend the signing ceremony.

The sports ministry says it has acted in accordance with national and international regulations.

Reuters

Advertisement
Continue Reading

International Football

Amokachi, Adebayor and Amanda Dlamini confirmed for CAF African Schools Championship Finals

Published

on

African football legends, Emmanuel Adebayor, Daniel Amokachi and Amanda Dlamini are some of the top names that have been confirmed for the Continental Finals of the CAF African Schools Football Championship 2024 scheduled in Zanzibar between 21 – 24 May 2024.

The CAF African Schools Football Championship is the school’s competition that includes over 44 African countries with over 800 000 participants of Boys and Girls under the age of 15.

This is the second edition of the competition that is not only focused on Football but also on a number of programmes including Young Referee’s Programme, Young Reporter Programme and Safeguarding. 

Adebayor, CAF Player of the Year in 2008, represented Togo at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for their only appearance at the tournament. Ex-striker for Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and others, the Togolese star has had a successful career, earning over 85 caps with Les Eperviers.

Nigerian football star Amokachi played 42 international matches for the Super Eagles. He participated in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups and was part of the team that won the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and the Olympic Games in 1996.

Advertisement

Former Banyana Banyana (South Africa) captain Dlamini played in two TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations competitions where they finished third and second in 2010 and 2012, respectively. She is one of the few footballers, both in the men’s and women’s national teams to reach 100 caps.

Dlamini recently made history when she became the first female to be part of the world commentary feed at the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.

Also on the list are local stars Abdi Kassim Sadalla, former Tanzanian National Team Captain, and Hilda Masanche, Head coach of the Tanzania U17 Women’s National Team.

The Legends will feature in various activities to promote and support football development among African youth.

The finals will bring together talented young players from across the continent, providing them a platform to showcase their skills and passion for the game.

Advertisement

-CAF

Continue Reading

Most Viewed