Siasia, Akanni lament as COVID-19 stalls CAS hearing

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A former Super Eagles Head Coach, Samson Siasia, is lamenting the postponement of his match-fixing allegation hearing, slated for Lausanne, Switzerland on March 19, due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

The disease, which is currently ravaging Europe, the U.S., Asia and other parts of the world has forced the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to postpone Siasia’s invitation to the European country indefinitely.

Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday, Siasia described the postponement of his invitation as sad.

According to him, being well and healthy in these trying times is more important.

COVID-19, known also as coronavirus has struck the global community with Europe currently having the lion’s share of people killed so far by the virus.

It will be recalled that FIFA had handed a lifetime ban on Siasia, 52, in August, 2019 for alleged match-fixing.

Switzerland is currently on lockdown because of the disease and was listed among 13 countries whose citizens had been banned by the Federal Government from entering Nigeria.

“It is sad honestly but there is nothing anybody can do at this moment other than to pray that this virus disappears.

“Being alive is the most important thing, although being able to work is important but we have to stay alive first to make the money.”

Siasia, however, pleaded with CAS to grant him permission to continue coaching, pending when his case would be heard after the March 19 scheduled date for the hearing.

“I think it will be kind and fair of them if CAS will allow me to coach, pending when moving around will be safe again,’’ said Siasia.

In the same vein, Siasia’s associate, Waidi Akanni, who was also Siasia’s former team mate during their active days as footballers, urged CAS to allow Siasia to continue with his coaching career, pending a new date for the hearing.

“Nobody knows when the coronavirus will be eradicated, that’s like putting his life on hold. This is sad as it is but the only fair thing to do is to allow him coach until a new date is fixed.

“This is his life. Most likely the only thing he knows how to do. We can only appeal that he is given a soft-landing until the coronavirus thing blows away,’’ Akanni said.

Siasia was a 1994 Africa Cup of Nations winner with the Super Eagles in Tunisia.

He also played in Nigeria’s maiden appearance at USA `94 World Cup, where he scored a goal against a Diego Maradona-led Albiceleste of Argentina.

The former striker played over 50 times for Nigeria, scoring 16 goals.

As a coach, he led Nigeria’s U-20 and U-23 sides to continental successes in 2005 and 2015, respectively.

He also guided the U-20s to a runner-up finish at the 2005 World Youth Championships (as it was then known) in the Netherlands.

Siasia is the most decorated African football coach at the Olympics, winning silver at the Beijing Games in 2008 and bronze at the 2016 Games in Rio. (NAN)

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