President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick has expressed the satisfaction of the Federation with on-field and off-field results for Nigerian Football in the outgoing year, while expressing conviction that the year 2018 will bring forth more honours and even greater global recognition for the Nigerian game.
In the year 2017, the Super Eagles qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals with a match to spare from a so –called ‘Group of Death’; the Eagles B qualified for the African Nations Championship starting in Morocco in a fortnight and the U20 and U17 girls swept aside opposition to reach the final round of qualification for their respective FIFA Women’s World Cup finals taking place in 2018.
Off the field, a string of victories in the boardroom has given Nigerian Football a louder voice in international football politics and a number of worthwhile sponsorship deals with corporate organizations has greatly reduced the financial burden on the nation’s supreme football–ruling body.
“Largely, it has been an excellent year, on and off the field. The bookmakers, analysts and football fans all over the world thought we were going to find it difficult in our World Cup qualifying group, but we made it to Russia with a match to spare. Now, we have already kick –started the preparations to the finals with a landmark agreement with the team on funds and renewal of the Technical Adviser’s contract to keep him fully focused on the job.
“Like the World Cup, qualification for the CHAN was also down to hard work and focus.
We are ready to work even harder and focus much more ardently on our objectives in the year 2018, because we want to win the CHAN and achieve our best –ever outing at the FIFA World Cup,” Pinnick said.
The CAF Executive Committee Member and Member of the Organizing Committee for FIFA Competitions also revealed that big plans are afoot for the women’s game.
“It is unfortunate that the Coach we had contacted and approved for the Super Falcons’ job opted for something else before the contract was signed, but that is water under the bridge and we have moved on. In a few weeks, we will unveil a highly qualified Coach for the team and we will then take it from there. Already, we have signed a contract for a friendly match with the women’s national team of France for 4th April 2018 in Paris. We are also mindful of the on –going campaigns of the Falconets and Flamingoes for World Cup tickets and we will continue to give them maximum support.
“We were absent from the youth tournaments in 2017 because we lost out of the qualifiers wanting to do things right. We have no regrets for insisting on doing what is right. We have already set the machinery in motion for a credible and enduring system that Nigerians will be proud of in a short while.
“I admit there were a couple of glitches in administration but that only showed we are human, but we have put measures in place to forestall unwholesome experience in the future. It is going to be a very busy first half of 2018 and I have told the secretariat to wake up and move at the same pace as the Executive.
In 2018, we will be thorough, we will be diligent, we will be professional and there will be zero tolerance for negligence and laxity. We are taking a winning mentality into 2018 and anyone not cut out for that will have to excuse us.
“The World Cup is the big one next year (2018) and I believe we are going to be very ready when the tournament kicks off. We have lined up four friendly matches starting with the game against Poland in Warsaw on March 23. There will be other matches on March 27,May 28 (in Nigeria) and June 2”