The Confederation of African Football has again excluded Nigerian centre referees from the list of officiating officials at the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Only one Nigerian Samuel Pwadutakam was listed as an assistant referee by the continental body for the tournament, which kicks off January 9, 2022.
Checks by our correspondent show that CAF has failed to list a Nigerian centre referee in the last five editions of the continental showpiece, spanning a decade while not more than one assistant referee from the West African nation has been called up for continental duties per tournament.
Our research, which began from the 2008 AFCON in Ghana, show that no Nigerian centre referee was appointed to handle any of the games ever since.
However, Peter Edibe represented the country at the AFCON on five different occasions from the 2008 edition to 2015 as an assistant ref, while fellow countryman Abel Baba was at the 2017 and 2019 editions in Gabon and Egypt.
The only Nigerian ref in Cameroon, Pwadutakam will be making his AFCON debut at the event.
Reacting to the recurring snub, retired FIFA-badge referee and former Chairman, Nigeria Referees Association, Linus Mba, expressed worries over the development. “I am worried and I’ve been asking what can be done to have a full complement of Nigerian officials at the AFCON. Going to the AFCON is not a cup of tea,” Mba told The PUNCH. “The onus is on our referees to work hard. I also think in the future, as long as we don’t nominate people because of politics, we will get there soon. But if politics continues to be involved, we’ll continue to have problems.”