England-based football scout, Ese Udoko, in this interview with KELVIN EKERETE alleges that his son, Ogaga, was unjustly dropped from the Golden Eaglets squad at the ongoing Brazil 2019 U-17 World Cup for Abba Abichi, son of the Director-General, Department of State Service, Bichi Magaji, after helping the team qualify for the World Cup.
Is it true that your son Ogaga Oduko was dropped for Abba Bichi, son of the DSS boss, Bichi Magaji?
It is true. My son Ogaga was substituted for Bichi Magaji’s son, Abba Bichi, and there is no other way we can point otherwise. Those coaches are the ones destroying Nigerian football. I believe the officials from the top are corrupt as well. It is affecting Nigerian football. The less-privileged kids cannot genuinely represent their country without having a godfather.
But there is a claim that you are just an agent to Ogaga and not his father…
(Cuts in) Ogaga is my adopted son. He lost both parents at the age of 10. I came to Nigeria to do my scouting programme in 2016 for less-privileged talented kids across four states in Nigeria. The final selection was held in Lagos. He borrowed money to come and there I spotted him. He told me his story and I have been taking care of him in my academy since then, along with his two siblings.
How long was your son in the U-17 camp?
I took him for the U-17 trials and he passed. He has been with the team for a long time. He went with them to Tanzania (U-17 AFCON, qualifiers for the World Cup). He was the one that lost the last penalty in the semi-final 10-9 defeat to Guinea in Tanzania. They refused to feature him in the third-place game because of that and the Eaglets lost the match. He is an attacking midfielder, better than what they have in that midfield, but the coaches told me that they would convert him to left-back, as they don’t have one. And that is the only way he can make the team. I told my son to adapt and because of his talent, he adapted and since then he has been with the U-17.
Do you think he was dropped because he wasn’t good enough?
Not at all. When Ogaga was with the national team, he worked hard and merited it. I was about bringing him to the United Kingdom, but I had not finalised the adoption process then. After the process, I felt that he should take a shot at the national team and that will qualify him to play in England. And also, the other players can see that hard work and dedication with your talent can take you to the top. He has been with the team until they came back from Tanzania. During their two months break. I asked for his passport, so he can apply for UK visa, as Arsenal wanted to see him. I told the coach, but they refused to give me his passport. The excuse was that they don’t want to lose him. They felt that if he joined a club in England, he would not want to come back and play for the national team. The boy was angry but I encouraged him to bear it.
Is there evidence that he was dropped directly for Bichi?