The Nigeria Referees Association has lamented the exclusion of Nigerian refs from next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, saying it is working to reposition its officials for excellence on the continent after the Confederation of African Football snub.
CAF on Tuesday named 85 referees for a preparatory course ahead of the 2023 AFCON and the list again was prominent for Nigerian referees’ absence.
A total of 32 centre referees, 33 assistant referees and four VAR officials, eight technical and physical instructors among others were listed by CAF for the course ahead of the showpiece.
In the wake of the latest snub, NRA president, Sanni Zubair, said Nigerian referees would soon be considered for major competitions in Africa and the world.
“In terms of performance, Nigerian referees are equal to any referee in the world. We have been watching and projecting the younger referees, some of them are now badged as FIFA referees and we have been moving on with them.
“There is a sort of gap between the ones we had before and now, and that is what we are trying to fill up,” Zubairu said.
While a referee like Ndidi Madu worked as a fourth official at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, it is not the first time that Nigerian officials would be missing out of continental duties.
At the last edition of the AFCON in Cameroon, only one Nigerian official, Samuel Pwadutakam, was selected as an assistant referee among the 63 match officials at the tournament.