Head Coach of National Grammar School Nike, Enugu, Lofty Uchenna,who guided his team to the final of the just-concluded U-15 COPA Coca-cola, says that poor officiating marred the ideals of the competition.
Uchenna made the assertion on Saturday while reflecting on the competition in which his team, Nike Grammar School, Enugu, lost to Asegun Grammar School, Oyo 3-0 on penalties.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the final played at Onikan Stadium, Lagos, was badly officiated but that the result could not be changed.
In his words, “We started the game very well in Enugu; it was free and fair, when we went to the regional elimination in Edo, it was also fair, but coming down here it wasn’t a free and fair game.
“I’m a referee, and what I saw from the officiating when we first met with Oyo shows that the match officials are biased, in fact, maybe there was briber involved,’’ he alleged.
He further said: “I told the organisers I didn’t want some referees to officiate and they were angry that I could challenge them; I always encourage my boys whenever we lose but we didn’t deserve to lose.
“I want to appeal to COPA Coca-Cola to please look into officiating for the next edition,’’ he stated.
Reacting to the bribery allegation, the Head Coach of Asegun Grammar School, Oyo State, Lekan Akinpelu and gaffer of the winner of the 7th COPA Coca-cola competition denied the allegation.
“Bribe, for what, this is a joke, we played to the best of our ability and God crowned our efforts with success, this allegations are unfounded.
“Just like in every profession, mistakes can be made because no one is perfect, there could have been human error here and there but the officials did their best.
“It ended in a penalty shootout, it could have ended either way, so that is where the element of luck comes in, and then again we have met before with Enugu and we won 1-0.
“When my team lose I don’t trade blames, I encourage my players and forge ahead, that’s the spirit of sportsmanship,’’ Akinpelu said.