World football –ruling body, Fifa has punished Nigeria for using an ineligible player in their final World Cup qualifier against Algeria in November.
Nigeria played 1-1 draw with Algeria in Constantine but that has now been overturned and Algeria awarded a 3-0 win.
The sanction does not affect Nigeria’s World Cup qualification as they had already clinched a place in Russia before the Algeria tie.
Abdullahi Shehu played the whole match against Algeria even though he should have been suspended for picking up yellow cards in two previous qualifiers.
The defender was cautioned in the Super Eagles 1-0 win over Zambia in October that sealed Nigeria’s spot in Russia, having been shown a yellow card in the first leg of their second round tie against Swaziland in November 2015.
The decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee which sat on the matter read, inter alia: “The Nigeria Football Federation is liable for having breached art.55 par.1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code and art. 8 of the 2018 Regulations of the FIFA World Cup Russia.
“The match played within the frame of the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between Algeria and Nigeria on 10 November 2017 is declared to be lost by forfeit by Nigeria (3-0).” The NFF was also fined the sum of 6,000 Swiss Francs.
NFF President Pinnick has directed that an internal inquiry be instituted immediately and persons found culpable be dealt with. “We accept the decision of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to fine the NFF and award the match to Algeria.
“However, this is a grave error and somebody must be punished. We apologize to Nigerians for this and assure that this will not in any way derail or even distract us in our well –laid plan to ensure that the Super Eagles have a great outing in Russia.
“At the same time, I want to assure that persons responsible for this slip would not be given just a slap on the wrist. We are actually looking at a re-organization of the Technical Department. The Technical Committee will henceforth play serious superintending role on all details, no matter how minute, in technical matters.
However, Nigeria still finish top of Group B but with 13 points instead of 14 while Algeria’s total at the bottom is now four rather than 2 points.