The Confederation of African Football has appointed Tunisian arbiter, Youssef Essrayri as the referee for next month’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Uyo.


Essrayri, 40, who became an international referee five years ago, will be assisted by compatriots Yamen Melloulchi (Assistant Referee 1), Hassen Abdelali (Assistant Referee 2) and Said Mohamed Kordi (Fourth Official).


The match commissioner is Andy Quamie from Liberia and Kotey Alexander Neequaye from Ghana will be referee assessor.


The encounter at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo on Saturday, 10th June will open the curtain on the qualifying race in Group E for Cameroon 2019, with only the group winners guaranteed slots at the finals. Libya and Seychelles are the other teams in the pool.


Meanwhile, the Super Eagles had their first training session in Ajaccio on Wednesday morning, ahead of Friday’s friendly match against the Corsica Senior Team at the Stade Francois Coty.


Expected at the team’s Best Western Hotel camp by Wednesday night are Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Mikel Agu and Abdullahi Shehu.


An interesting game is at hand for the three –time African champions, against a team that has only lost once in the nine matches it has played since forming a squad in 1967.


The only defeat the Corsica Senior Team has suffered was a 0-1 reverse to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in a friendly in Bastia on May 14, 1998. The Lions were then preparing for the 1998 FIFA World Cup finals in France.


The only time Corsica had played 1998 FIFA World Cup champions France was in February 1967, and the former won 2-0.   



28 Feb 1967 France 0 Corsica 2 (Marseille)

14 May 1998 Corsica 0 Cameroon 1 (Bastia)

6 June 2009 Corsica 1 Congo 1 (Ajaccio)

19 May 2010 Corsica 2 Brittany 0 (Ajaccio)

21 May 2010 Corsica 1 Gabon 1 (Bastia)

31 May 2011 Corsica 1 Bulgaria 0 (Ajaccio)

24 May 2012 Corsica 2 A Squadrra Internaziunale 2 (Ajaccio)

29 May 2015 Corsica 1 Burkina Faso 0 (Bastia)

27 May 2016 Corsica 1 Basque Country 1 (8-9 penalties) (Ajaccio) 

General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi has charged organizers of the annual Nigeria Pitch Awards to ensure the sustenance of the values of transparency, credibility and integrity that have assured the project a pride of place in Nigerian Football in the few years that it has been in existence.


Speaking in Abuja at the weekend, Sanusi lauded the diligence and efforts that Matchmakers Consult International Limited have put into the organization of the Awards since its first edition in 2013.


“I am delighted that despite all the challenges faced by the organizers over the years, they have managed to sustain the Nigeria Pitch Awards. It is a noble programme because Awards are very special in the role they play in motivating and galvanizing people to strive to be better in whatever they do.


“With regards to the Nigeria Pitch Awards, the existence of such a project makes our football players, referees, coaches, administrators, sponsors and even player-managers to aim to do their job better. I advise the organizers to remain upright and rigid about the values inherent, and not to succumb to any temptation to tamper with the credibility and transparency that the Awards are known for.”


Just as the NFF, the Super Eagles and indeed all Nigerian football fans are eagerly looking forward to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between the Eagles and Bafana Bafana of South Africa, scheduled for Uyo on Saturday, 10th June, organizers of the Nigeria Pitch Awards are also looking forward to the day.


It is on that day that the fourth edition of the Nigeria Pitch Awards will take place, hours after the match scheduled for the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.


“We are making all necessary arrangements and tying up every necessary end to ensure another successful Nigeria Pitch Awards ceremony,” Shina Phillips, President of the Awards, told on Sunday.


“We are indeed happy at the level the Awards have grown to and very much aware of the expectations of Nigerian Football stakeholders. For us, the Pitch Awards is a national project, something that must be sustained and alongside, the values of credibility and integrity that have taken us thus far.


“We treasure the endorsement of the Nigeria Football Federation and the encouragement that we continue to receive from highly placed football administrators and other stakeholders of the game.”


The Nigeria Pitch Awards is the only ceremony that honours players in all departments of the football field as well as almost all workers in football in a single night.


Phillips revealed that the nominees for this year’s Awards will be announced during the week.


At a ceremony held in Lagos in February to present certificates to some of last year’s winners, Phillips declared that from next year, the award statuette would be fully gold –plated.

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The Nigeria Football Federation has moved to enforce earlier circulars it sent out to all its affiliate bodies in respect of football officials playing multiple roles that amount to conflicts of interest in the football space.


In a letter dated 2nd May 2017 and signed by the General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, the Federation unequivocally requested “all affiliates to send to the office of the National Integrity Officer received copies of resignation letters by all affected officials on or before 12th May 2017.

The said letters should be scanned and sent to the following email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”


For avoidance of doubt, the NFF listed the following as specific issues contained in previous circulars to its affiliates:


1) We have observed that some Club Officials are currently operating as Match Commissioners in some strata of our Leagues. In view of these reforms, No Club Official should be appointed as a Match Commissioner/ Referee Assessor in any of our Leagues in Nigeria.


2) Also, we advise that No State Football Association Secretary should be appointed as a Club Secretary, considering the fact that the State FA Secretaries in most cases are the chief organizers of matches within their territories.


3) State Football Association Chairmen that are appointed as Independent Directors in our leagues should no longer be appointed as Match Commissioners/ Referee Assessors in our league games.


4) State Football Association Chairmen should not be doubling as Football Club Chairmen. Hence, all State FA Chairmen that are holding dual offices as Club Chairmen are advised to either relinquish the State FA Chairmanship position or that of the Club Chairmanship position within three (3) months from the date of this Circular.


5) State FA Chairmen that are also appointed as Board Members of Football Club Boards are to also decide to either be Club Board members or State FA Chairmen as they are henceforth not allowed to hold dual position forthwith.


6) All NFF Executive Committee Members, NFF Management and Staff, State Football Association Chairmen and their respective Board Members, Club Chairmen and Officials, Coaches and all other Football Officials are hereby directed to desist from Acting as Intermediaries (Agent/Managers) to players forthwith.


7) No Official shall be allowed to occupy dual position as a Coach and also as an Administrator i.e as either a State Football Coach and member of State FA or as a Coach and Chairman of a Football Club hence those affected are advised to choose one on or before 2nd May 2017.


8) All Serving Referees that are occupying State Football Association positions either as Board Member, Secretary of State FAs or Chairmen are to choose to remain with one of the two Official duties.


“It is instructive to remind all concerned that the Nigeria Football Federation shall open up Disciplinary proceedings against affected persons should they fail to convey the evidence of resignation of their affected portfolios to the office of the National Integrity Officer on or before 12th May, 2017,” the letter concluded.

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