Super Eagles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi and Nigerian singer, Johnny Drille, criticized the officiating of Mauritanian referee, Dahane Beida during the 2023 AFCON final.
During the 2023 AFCON final between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Ivory Coast at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Sunday, February 11, the referee made some controversial calls which kept Eagles’ coach Jose Peseiro agitated in most parts of the game.
Peseiro was so agitated by the porous officiating that the referee gave him a yellow card to put the Portuguese tactician in check.
Unfortunately, the hosts of the tournament came from a goal down to beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 to win their third AFCON title.
Despite the domineering display from the Ivorians, in front of over 60,000 spectators, mostly Ivorians, referee Beida’s series of erroneous calls against Nigeria didn’t go unnoticed.
Wilfred Ndidi, who wasn’t part of the Super Eagles’ 2023 AFCON squad due to fitness issues, couldn’t help but write in pidgin English via X, “Ref na wa o.”
Also, Nigerian singing sensation, Johnny Drille, wrote to his X page: “This ref is against us. Nothing you can tell me.”
Nigerian journalists Biola Kazeem and Atinuke Esan were also among the critics who believed the referee worked against the Super Eagles.
Kazeem wrote: “Puzzling choice of referee for the final. The referee is clearly struggling with the occasion. Officiating has been one of the success stories of the competition and CAF had more experienced options to choose for the final. Favour probably prevailed over labour.”
Esan added, “One of the good reviews we have seen about this tournament have been the referees and their decisions. But it seems this ref is hell-bent on destroying everything because this bias is too glaring.”