The semifinals of the 2012 Federation Cup has just sparked off a dispute between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and one of the clubs still in the running in the competition, Heartland.
The last four games of the Federation Cup, Nigeria’s oldest football competition, will hold in Ilorin and Calabar on August 15 and with the Super Eagles also billed to play an international friendly against Niger Republic on the same day, questions were raised over where several players would pitch their loyalties ahead of the game.
Lobi Stars will face Kano Pillars, in the first semi while Heartland and Prime FC will square off in the second.
Four players from Heartland, Daniel Akpeyi, Francis Benjamin, Obinna Nwachukwu and Kabiru Umar and three from Kano Pillars, Umar Zango, Gabriel Reuben and Papa Idris have been included in Nigeria’s 26-man squad to face Niger on August 15 in Niamey.
The NFF insists the seven players will not be released to ahead of the semifinals of Nigeria’s oldest football competition.
Spokesman of the NFF, Ademola Olajire said the national team assignments are more important than domestic assignments.
“National team assignments supercede club assignments so the players will not be released. Besides the date for the semifinals of the Federation Cup had been fixed before the deal for the friendly against Nigeria was fixed.
Meanwhile, Heartland coach, Ndubuisi Nduka confirmed that the four players have already moved to the Super Eagles’ camp but hinted that they would soon be recalled.
“The rules are very clear. If there are more than two players in a club called up for national assignment, the club reserves the right to ask for its game to be postponed.
“We have already written to the NFF to ask that the players be released to help us prosecute our semifinal game and we expect them to do that,” he said.
The NFF has denied receiving any form of formal correspondence from Heartland in that regard while re-affirming that the Federation Cup games will not be postponed.
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