NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari
From the Nigeria Football Federation came a solid vote of confidence on Wednesday that the Super Eagles will surely qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations finals to be hosted by South Africa.
NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari agreed that though a win would have been better than the 2-2 draw garnered from Saturday’s Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia in Monrovia, the return leg at the U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar on October 13 would settle all issues comfortably in Nigeria’s favour.
“The good thing is that the players and technical officials realize that was one match they should have won. I spoke with the Head Coach and the Captain and they both feel confident about the return leg.
“For the Nigeria Football Federation, our duty is to provide every support for the team to ensure it qualifies for the African Cup of Nations, and we will do that.
“I wish to use this opportunity to express heartfelt appreciation to His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for his very keen interest in the Super Eagles and other National Teams.
"The President was physically present at the team’s training session before the trip to Monrovia and expressed interest in being in South Africa for the Cup of Nations next year. The least the Eagles can do is work assiduously towards qualifying so that our President can be at the finals,” said Maigari.
Nigeria was expected to oil her powerful machine for a return to African football’s choice houseparty with a win in Monrovia, but an equalizer conceded 24 minutes to the end meant the fixture with Liberia is still delicately poised ahead of the return leg in Calabar in four-and-half weeks.
Also speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, NFF General Secretary Musa Amadu said the Eagles will sail to South Africa.
“I am confident the Super Eagles will be one of the 16 teams in the pot for the Draw Ceremony on October 26. I have no doubt about that. When we meet Liberia in Calabar for the second leg, it will be a different ball game.”
Meanwhile, the NFF has charged the U-17 National Team, Golden Eaglets to keep level heads despite a 4-1 thrashing of their Nigerien counterparts in a 2013 African U-17 Championship qualifying match in Niamey on Saturday.
Chairman of the Media and Publicity Committee, High Chief Emeka Inyama said on Wednesday that the technical crew led by Coach Manu Garba has a responsibility to ensure that the victory in Niamey, and indeed other marvellous results in their earlier friendly matches, do not make the boys feel they have ‘arrived’.
“The NFF has been monitoring the progress of the team and we’re hugely impressed. The win over Niger in Niamey was a solid one and the boys should be delighted with their own output.
“However, the journey is still far. They have the return leg against Niger to come and will still have to overcome two other teams to qualify for the African finals in Morocco next year.
“The truth is that qualification for the African finals itself will only be a step towards redemption, with the Golden Eaglets having failed to reach the last two African U-17 Championship finals.”
Inyama added that the NFF is happy with the seriousness shown by players and officials, as underscored by the fact that the team resumed training the same day it returned to Calabar from Niamey.
“That is the kind of spirit we want in all our National Teams. With such focus and commendable sense of duty, the team will surely go places.
“Our commitment is to see that the team enjoys every support it needs to qualify for the African Junior Championship and the FIFA U-17 Championship in the UAE, and do Nigeria proud at both tournaments,” said Inyama, while praising the Executive Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke (CON) and his administration for total support to the team.