Win This Trophy For Jonathan, Pinnick Tells Flying Eagles
As the Flying Eagles attempt to grab a seventh African Youth Championship title today in Dakar, Senegal, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, says it would gladden his heart, if the boys can do it for Nigerians, particularly President Goodluck Jonathan.
“I will be very excited if they can win the trophy for our sports-loving President Jonathan because he has demonstrated over time that he cares for sports men and women, particularly the youths,” Pinnick told The Guardian yesterday.
“I actually promised Mr. President two trophies in the first quarter of this year, but our U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, missed one few weeks ago in Niger Republic. The Flying Eagles must not let this one slip pass us,” he said.
Pinnick will be represented in today’s final between the Flying Eagles and Lionceaux of Senegalese by the NFF First Vice President, Seye Akinwunmi, as he is expected to play a key role this evening during the President’s visit to Eko Hotel, Lagos, where he will perform a sports function.
The NFF boss was optimistic yesterday that the Coach Manu Garba-led Flying Eagles would crown their effort by lifting the trophy, assuring that the young lads would be adequately rewarded.
The Flying Eagles have won the African title on six occasions –1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2005 and 2011. They have also lost two finals–in 1999 to hosts Ghana, and in 2007 to hosts Congo.
To reach today’s final, their ninth in the competition, the team defeated host Senegal (3-1), Congo (4-1) and drew 2-2 with Cote d’Ivoire in the group phase. They then edged past arch-rivals, Ghana, 2-0 in the semifinal.
Senegal on the other hand, bounce back from an opening day loss to Nigeria to draw with Cote d’Ivoire 1-1, before recording a dramatic 4-3 win over Congo to qualify for their first-ever AYC semifinals. Their previous two outings in this competition saw them crash out in the first round, in 1993 and 1995.
Kick-off time is 7.30pm local time, which is 8.30pm in Nigeria.