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When victory becomes an emotional elixir for an expectant nation


[FILES] NFF President, Amaju Pinnick.

As the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the round of 16 clash between the Super Eagles and Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on Saturday, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick raised his two hands upwards, appreciating God for ‘the wonderful gift.’

“I must thank God for this sweet victory against Cameroon,” Pinnick said, as he hugged some top Nigerian officials one after the other inside the VIP box at Alexandria Stadium.

Seven days ago, Pinnick and other NFF officials, top Nigerian government officials, supporters club members and Nigerians who reside in Egypt, as well as Nigerian journalists covering the Egypt 2019 Afcon left this same stadium sad after the Super Eagles went down 0-2 to lowly rated Madagascar.

Apart from sending millions of Nigerian football lovers to their beds early, the defeat to Madagascar forced the Eagles to surrender their leadership of Group B, and in the process, pitched Nigeria against Cameroon, who failed to beat Benin Republic in their last group match.


When the pairing against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon emerged, some Nigerians hurriedly re-scheduled their flight tickets because they believed that the defending champions would overrun the Eagles, going by their not-too-impressive performances in their previous three matches against Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar.

It ended 3-2 in Nigeria’s favour, as the defending champions, Cameroon joined two north African heavyweights, host Egypt and Morocco to wave goodbye to the competition. The Moroccans were the first to bite the dust on Friday, losing on penalties to ‘minnows’ Benin Republic, while the Pharaohs joined the exit group on Saturday with a 0-1 defeat by the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.

Pinnick stated that he was excited for the victory over the Cameroonians saying: “A defeat would have been too hard for us at this early stage of the competition. We have stayed away from the Nations Cup since we won it in South Africa 2013, and many Nigerians back home are expecting something good from us in Egypt.

“Now, we can look forward to the next stage of the competition with the expectation that the Eagles will reward our months of preparations with a ticket to the semifinals on Wednesday.”

The NFF boss continued: “I must say that the journey has just begun. We won this battle against Cameroon today, but the ‘war’ is still on. I believe that with collective effort, we shall smile at the end. I must thank President Muhammadu Buhari for believing in the NFF and the team. He has demonstrated the quality of a good father, and we are grateful.

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