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Pinnick restates commitment to football development, reaffirms decision to stand down

By Christian Okpara
01 December 2020   |   4:16 am
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, has reaffirmed his commitment to the development of the country’s football.

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick (left) and FIFA boss, Gianni Infantino

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, has reaffirmed his commitment to the development of the country’s football.

Pinnick, who believes Nigeria has the talents to become a truly great soccer nation, said the country would return to greatness if all stakeholders work in one accord for success.

Speaking on the eve of his 50th birthday celebration yesterday, Pinnick said leading Nigeria’s football for the past six years and three months has shown that the country is made for greatness, adding that Nigerians will soon start seeing the results of the NFF’s efforts at making the country’s game a success.

He said, “we have all worked at not only steering the ship, but doing things differently. We have looked at the strategies, methods and processes and we have tried to make positive changes that would make things easier for those coming into the organisation in the years to come.

“We have planned, toiled, ploughed, planted and prayed, and we still earnestly pray that all will end in praise. Nigerian football has so much potential; we believe the work we have been doing will begin to manifest very soon.”

The NFF president acknowledged that Nigerian football is not yet where the federation wants it to be. He added, “There have been many challenges, odds, hurdles and obstacles. The important thing is we have remained indivisible, united and committed to the larger cause of the interest of the Nigeria game.

“Our focus has kept us all on the same page: Congress, the Executive Committee, Management and Staff. There have been tribulations and simulated slippery ground here and there, but we have managed to weather it all and stand tall. These trials have not been of our making, but the sincerity of our desire to improve the way things are done for the good of the game has never been in doubt.”

On the African Cup of Nations qualifiers, especially the disappointing outings against Sierra Leone, Pinnick said the Super Eagles have learnt a big lesson, saying, “every game deserves not only your best output, but your best output throughout and until the referee’s final whistle.

“We have had a few conversations with the players and technical crew since then and I am confident this kind of complacency will not rear its head again.”

He said the lessons from the games against Sierra Leone came at the right time and would stand the Eagles in good stead when the World Cup qualifying series begin.

“If we had thrashed the Leone Stars, there would have been the temptation to take Liberia, Cape Verde and Central Africa Republic for granted in the World Cup qualifiers. Now, we know we cannot do anything like that.

“Every game, from the first one, must be approached with the best legs, mind and best attitude. Each of the six qualifying matches will be war and the knock-out games will be greater war.”

The federation president, who expressed his disappointment at the performance of Nigerian clubs in CAF competitions at the weekend, said he still believed the clubs would turn things around.

“Nigerian teams should be made of sterner stuff. I commend Enyimba FC that won away against their opponents in Ouagadougou; that is the way to do it. My challenge to the other clubs is to turn things around in the return legs and qualify for the next rounds of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup competitions.”

He assured Nigerians that the NFF would strengthen the domestic league to make it more competitive, adding, “the importance of the league being virile and attractive is not lost on any of us.”

On his FIFA Council membership aspiration, Pinnick said he made his decision after consulting with important football leaders, adding that being on the council confers “a lot of responsibility on one and you have the opportunity to make crucial contributions to the running of world football. Things may change in a couple of years, but for now, I am going for the FIFA Council based on the consultations I have had and the plan that is on ground.”

The NFF boss also used the opportunity to reaffirm his decision to quit after completing his second term, saying, “I will be standing down in 2022 to give another person the opportunity to lead Nigeria football.”