LMC expresses concern over Nigeria’s continental clubs

The League Management Company (LMC) has expressed concern over the underwhelming performances of Nigerian sides in CAF club competitions.

Enyimba failed to progress past the group stages of the 2016 CAF Champions League while Warri Wolves were eliminated in the first round after they came up against Sudanese club, Al Merreikh.

In this year’s CAF Confederation Cup, Africa’s second-tier club competition, was not much better as the country’s two flag bearers, Akwa United and Nasarawa United bowed out at the preliminary and first rounds respectively.

Chairman of the LMC, Shehu Dikko said he is eager to see things change for the better in 2017.

“The issue of continental performance of Nigerian clubs is something of huge concern and as usual what we (LMC) are working on to change this tide is to look at the matter from the root cause to see what can be done to change the situation.

“There are always no quick fixes, so we’re working to bring change and institutionalise it to ensure we don’t go back to the dark ages,” Dikko said.

The LMC chief added that Nigerian clubs must strive to attain stability by ensuring that they hold on to the majority of their playing personnel at the end of each season.

“The first step is to ensure we bring stability to the clubs by ensuring the usual wholesale change of squad players every season, which invariably affects the competitive edge of the clubs, is controlled. We have achieved this and now the clubs are more stable and maintain a good identity.

“Secondly, we are now working to ensure we start our league in time so our clubs can play as much matches as possible to gel before they start the continental campaign in the second week of February.

“This would improve their ability to compete. Hopefully, this 2017 season, we will achieve this.

“Thirdly, we have always been supporting our continental clubs both morally and financially to do well on the continent and we will continue to do this,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Enugu Rangers and Rivers United will represent Nigeria in the 2017 CAF Champions League while FC Ifeanyiubah and Wikki Tourists will campaign in the Confederation Cup.

Dikko says the four clubs must prepare well if they are to compete favourably with the elite on the continent.

The LMC boss singled out Rivers United for their painstaking and detailed approach to their pre-season preparations, tipping them to do well on the continent.

“However, we must all understand that this issue is not within the justification of the league as it’s the duty of the clubs to ensure they prepare well to be able to compete on the continent.

“Ours is to provide a level playing field and ensure the best club gets the opportunity and we have been doing this.

“Also, we must know that performance on the continent is certainly not a reflection of the league quality, competitiveness, and or commercial success.

“Many clubs doing well on the continent are coming from a league where only one team or two, max three are the only strong clubs in the league.

“Ours is totally different. Our focus here is to build a very successful and commercially viable football league rather than just focus on CAF competition.

“When we get our league right, our clubs will surely be more competitive on the continent and anything can happen.

“But we do hope this coming season our clubs will do well and Rivers United pre-season preparation can testify to their seriousness, likewise the ability of Rangers, FC Ifeanyiubah and Wikki to keep core of the team has shown they are serious,” he said.



Aisha JM