Kelechi Iheanacho of Nigeria (c) and Ramahlwe Mphahlele (r) and Erick Mathoho of South Africa (l) during the 2019 Afcon football qualifier between Nigeria and South Africa at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on June 10, 2017 in Uyo State, Nigeria. @Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix
Thursday Jun 15, 2017. 15:30
Nigeria's 2-0 loss to South Africa seems to have left the country divided with some players lambasting the Nigerian Football Federation and blaming them for the defeat.
Media reports in the country reveal that an unnamed player said the NFF's failure to have official match balls was a national disgrace.
The BBC reports that the NFF did not have official match balls for the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo last Saturday, but had 2016 balls which were turned down by officials.
The move prompted the officials to use balls provided by their opponents, South Africa, and the loss seems to be credited to the official match ball.
Reports suggest that the Super Eagles turned up at the ground without balls approved by CAF because the entire consignment of 250 sent to the Nigeria Football Federation is still stuck at a port awaiting clearance.
Furthermore, the report reveals that the Super Eagles trained with balls provided by Nike, their kit sponsors and only got a feel of the 2017 CAF balls during the pre-match warm-up.
"It's not the reason we lost but we trained with different balls only to use another ball for the game," said a player to the BBC, who requested anonymity.
"To borrow match balls from your opponent is not only bizarre but embarrassing," said another one,
Meanwhile, CAF sent 250 footballs to Nigeria in January to use for the CAF Champions League, Confederation Cup and international matches.
However, the balls were reportedly dispatched to the wrong address and the NFF has promised to work on the matter.