The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has expressed sincere appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the resolution of the federation’s leadership issue, which enabled Nigeria to avert suspension from international football on Monday.
NFF President Amaju Pinnick, who spoke on behalf of the federation yesterday, admitted that the timely intervention of the Presidency in the August 20 deadline given to Nigeria to resolve the lingering crisis caused or face ban caused FIFA to change its on the planned sanctions.
“The position of His Excellency, and that of the Federal Government, which was conveyed to FIFA by His Excellency, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (GCON) has convinced FIFA that Nigeria is indeed ready as ever to follow FIFA’s Statutes. I want to also use this opportunity to thank the Vice President, who as Acting President, played a very key role in the resolution of the matter.
“Our appreciation also goes to the Members of the Federal Executive Council, Members of the National Assembly, Heads of the various Security Agencies, Members of the NFF Congress, all our sponsors/partners, football stakeholders, analysts and ball fans who stood solidly by the tenets of association football,” observed the NFF chief.
Pinnick, also the 1st Vice President of CAF and Member of the Organizing Committee for FIFA Competitions, disclosed that the immediate focus of the NFF now is the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, starting with an away game against Seychelles on 7th September, and with home-and-away matches against Libya in October and another away fixture against South Africa in November
“We will approach the matches one game at a time. Our objective is not only to qualify for the finals, but for the Super Eagles to also make a meaningful impact at the finals in Camerooon in the summer of next year,” stated Pinnick, who is also President of the AFCON Organizing Committee.
He affirmed also that focus is on the upcoming Women Africa Cup of Nations (scheduled for Ghana in November and for which the Super Falcons, reigning champions, have qualified), as well as the 2019 Under-20 and Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations championships billed for Niger Republic and Tanzania respectively.
While commending Enyimba FC of Aba and its Chairman, NFF Executive Committee Member Felix Anyansi-Agwu for their brilliant outing in Bamako at the weekend that has paved the way for qualification for the quarter finals of the CAF Confederation Cup, Pinnick charged the team not to relent but instead go all out to defeat Club Athletique Renaissance Aiglons of Congo in Aba next week to assure of progress.
The former Chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission used the opportunity to reiterate the long-term vision of the federation, hinged on youth football development and financial autonomy.