Ex-football international Kadiri Ikhana on Saturday in Abeokuta said the late M.K.O. Abiola deserves more honour from the Nigerian sports community than being witnessed.
Ikhana, who played for the defunct Abiola Babes Football Club of Abeokuta which the late philanthropist formed and funded, said Abiola did a lot for Nigerian sports to deserve more.
“MKO Abiola didn’t deserve the situation we are seeing here,” he said in his remarks as the guest of honour during the finals of the 2023 National YSFON Under-18 Boys Football Tournament for the MKO Abiola Cup.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was held at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta, with the arena sparsely filled.
The spectators in the stands were fewer than about 500, with players and other officials making up more than 50 percent of this number.
The state government also had no representative in spite of being invited, according to the organisers, the Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON).
“He was someone who brought a lot of sports stars to Abeokuta, especially footballers who made great names before and during their times with the defunct Abiola Babes.
“It is unfortunate that it is this kind of crowd we are seeing here.
“We need to do better, because Abiola did a lot for football in Abeokuta and Nigeria in general, both in terms of developing talents and making their playing environment better,” Ikhana said.
The former left full-back who played for the then Bendel Insurance and the defunct Green Eagles however thanked the organisers of the competition for their resilience.
“I believe we need to appreciate YSFON for their efforts in organising this competition, in spite of all odds.
“I wish (that) the state government in Ogun will support this competition in view of Abiola’s contributions to football in the state.
“Other state governments should help too, because Abiola did well for practically all the states of Nigeria,” he said.
Ikhana who coached clubs such as the defunct BCC Lions of Gboko, Aba-based Enyimba International and Kano Pillars, as well as the Super Falcons, said the under-18 competition needed more support.
“It is a competition that can help us a lot and we need to raise its level to develop more talents,” he said.
NAN reports that hosts Ogun won the competition after beating Kwara 1-0 in the final match.
Ex-internationals and other former footballers such as Toyin Ayinla, Tajudeen Disu, Austin Popo, Biodun Odejimi and Kola Taiwo graced the finals.