Thursday, March 31, 2016 6:21 am
Mr Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), said the federation did everything humanly possible for Nigeria to qualify for AFCON 2017.
Pinnick told newsmen at a news conference that it was rather unfortunate their efforts failed to yield fruits. He however said the federation would now focus on ensuring that the team qualified for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
“I want to explain to Nigerians through this medium what transpired and all what we did for Nigeria not to have been ousted from the qualifiers to the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
“We did everything humanly and materially possible to make sure we qualify. We did not leave any stone unturned.
“Just at the last minute, when we were about to celebrate (in Kaduna), a goal came. To me, I just see it as destiny. But our focus now is shifted principally to the next World Cup,’’ Pinnick said.
The NFF president assured that the federation would utilise all available FIFA international day windows to make the team better.
“We are in talks already with our consultant in making sure that the two available windows in June will be properly put to use,’’ he said.
Pinnick said he would have prevailed on Chad not to withdraw but it was not possible, adding “luck was not on our side.
“Chad coincidentally pulled out, just when we were thinking that even if we emerged with 11 points we might have ended up being one of the best losers.
“The truth is that destiny counted against us,’’ he said.
The NFF president said he was glad that the Super Eagles were still among the best on the continent and were in line for qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
“There are 20 teams that have qualified and these are the 20 best teams in Africa.
“If you look at the list of countries that have qualified, we will have a lot to do.
“So, we need to really start our preparation on time and also focus on doing well as the Olympics in Rio in August.
“The last time Samson Siasia (Super Eagles’ Interim Coach and current Olympic team’s Head Coach) went to the Olympics, he got a silver. Now we want to make him get gold.
“We want to do our human extreme in that regards, because we know that they (Siasia and his players) are very capable,’’ he said.
Pinnick, however, said he was very sure that a good future was ahead for the Super Eagles.
“We see a future that is very robust. The only thing that we can do is to sit down and get advice from anybody who is ready to offer.
“But, first, let us expunge from our mind any form of bitterness and acrimony to move the nation’s football forward,’’ he said.
Nigeria has failed to feature for the second straight time in the AFCON under the leadership of Pinnick.
Egypt is now in pole position to feature at Gabon 2017 after it beat Nigeria 1-0 to move to seven points from three matches.