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EXCLUSIVE: Nigerian Referees will Soon Be Selected For AFCON – Ferdinand Udoh (AUDIO)

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Ferdinand Udoh has said Nigerian referees will soon officiate matches at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) did not select any centre referee from the country for the 2019 tournament in Egypt.

Udoh, the only Nigerian CAF Elite A referee at the moment, missed out of the 2019 AFCON due to injury, but informed that in the coming years, ‘wonderful’ and ‘young’ referees from the country will graduate to the top class where they can be considered for the AFCON.

“It takes a period of time for referees to grow, just like educational system in Nigeria,” the 32-year-old said. “It will take you a period of time to leave primary school, secondary school and then, you get to the university. And from the university, you can begin to apply for jobs.

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“So, we still have referees who are going through primary and secondary schools. I was lucky to have grown so fast, because at the time they needed referees from Nigeria, I was picked, and I was just moving quite fast.”

For the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, assistant referee Abel Baba is the only Nigerian selected for training prior to the tournament.

But Udoh, who was rated as Nigeria’s best referee from 2014 to 2017, stated that the country has a lot of young officials who will soon climb the ranks, adding that their omission from this year’s AFCON has nothing to do with their quality.

“Now we have younger referees who are at the secondary level, and in a couple of years, they will leave the secondary level to the tertiary level before they can be considered for the Nations Cup (AFCON).

“We have wonderful, young referees. It is not due to lack of quality (that they were not selected). They have to be groomed over a period of time,” the highly-rated FIFA-badged referee said.

One of such referees is 27-year-old Adebimpe Quadri, the youngest ever Nigerian FIFA-badged official, who coincidentally, took the record from Udoh.

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