By Sulaimon Sheriff

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has explained the exclusion of Nigerian referees from officiating at the Africa Cup of Nations and other continental football tournaments. Noumandiez Doue, the Head of Refereeing at CAF, addressed the issue during a referee’s training session in Abidjan.

Doue acknowledged the competence of Nigerian referees but emphasised that they must enhance their performance to meet the required standards.

As quoted by Punch, 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 .

In September, Nigerian soccer enthusiasts expressed disappointment over the published referee rosters for the 2023 Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations, which is currently taking place in Cote d’Ivoire in 2024, as none of the referees hailed from Nigeria. Explaining this decision, Doue stated that the Confederation of African Football (CAF) selects referees based on their exceptional skills rather than settling for referees of average quality.

He said: “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 .