The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has addressed the long-standing absence of Nigerian referees from officiating at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and other continental football tournaments.
CAF’s Head of Refereeing, Noumandiez Doue, explained the rationale behind this during a training session for referees at Sol Beni (ASEC Mimosas Training Centre) in Abidjan.
Doue acknowledged the competency of Nigerian referees but stressed the need for them to excel beyond being merely good to be selected for CAF competitions.
He added that CAF selects only the best referees for its events, not just average ones.
This statement came amidst debates among Nigerian football stakeholders regarding the lack of representation of Nigerian officials in the 2023 AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire.
Doue outlined the progression stages for referees, starting from young talent to elite categories, specifying that selections for AFCON are made from the elite B category.
He said, “You have good referees in Nigeria and to come to AFCON you have to be the best.
“Good referees are for the Zones, you have to be the best to come to the CAF competitions.
“Nigeria referees are improving but they need to do more to be among the best because the selection has started in the last one and a half years.
“We are in the scouting process of evaluating and to the end of selection.
“We have different stages, you start from young talent to elite B, elite A, and professional, it’s among the elite B we picked for the AFCON.”
He encouraged Nigerian referees to improve and strive to rank among the best to qualify for future selections.