NFF President Amaju Pinnick has expressed confidence that the Senior Men National Team, Super Eagles, will qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
The qualification series for the 2017 Cup of Nations (to be hosted by Gabon) will be concluded in September 2016, but the Eagles have what is seen as a group-decider, double-dose against the Pharaohs of Egypt in March, while the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to be staged in Russia, begin in October 2016.
Pinnick spoke on Channels Television program, ‘Sports This Morning,’ on Thursday, where he also explained that a holistic solution being packaged for the women’s game in the country has been slowed down by the poor state of the economy, which hit hard at the company that was willing to pick the bills of the proposed expatriate Coach for the Super Falcons.
Nigeria’s number one football administrator paid glowing tributes to the contribution of ideas, toil and sacrifices of the Members of the NFF Executive Committee and Management, saying the bountiful harvests that Nigeria football reaped in year 2015 was the handiwork of a united and committed team. Admitting that the job of managing Nigeria football (where about 150 million of estimated 170 million population are ‘football coaches’) is a tough call, Pinnick assured that the NFF Executive Committee and Management are equal to the task.
“I want to state clearly that it has never been a one-man show. The Members of the Executive Committee and Management have been excellent. We are a united team. The triumphs of the U-20 boys in Senegal, the U-17 boys in Chile and the U-23 boys in Senegal, as well as the qualification of the Eagles B for the African Nations Championship and the progress the Super Eagles have made are the results of a committed group.
“I make bold to say that year 2016 will be even better. We are looking to see the Eagles B win the African Nations Championship, the Super Eagles qualifying for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and starting the race to Russia 2018 on a sound footing, and also planning for the women teams to excel at their various international championships.”
The Super Falcons expect to qualify for the African Women Championship in Cameroon, while the U-20 girls have already qualified for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea and the U-17 girls are looking to reach the U-17 World Cup in Jordan.
The NFF supremo also assured that Super Eagles’ Head Coach, Sunday Oliseh, is getting better health –wise and experience –wise, and that the competence of his assistants to steer the team in the right direction in his absence has never been in doubt.
On the issue of the FC Taraba players’ sleep strike outside the State Government House to protest unpaid salaries and allowances, Pinnick said it was highly unfortunate but that the League Management Company is on top of the situation.
“I also want to add that going forward, the best option will be for us to have Clubs that are independent of government control; Clubs that are owned by communities and individuals. We will inter-face with the Governors’ Forum to kick-start this process.
“We know it will not happen in a month or two, or even in a year. But our objective is to have Clubs that are properly run, and stadia that are so friendly that whole families can go and watch football matches without any anxiety.”
On Wednesday, Pinnick stated that the plethora of awards being bestowed on his person and the NFF in general is testimony that the present administration is steering the Nigeria game in the right direction.
The Edo State Football Association honoured him as the ‘Football Personality of the Year’ at their Awards Nite that took place in Benin City same day. It would be recalled that leading national newspapers, The SUN and VANGUARD, have differently announced Amaju Pinnick as their ‘Sports Personality of the Year,’ at award ceremonies to take place in the new year.