By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Despite the 2-2 draw result posted by the Super Eagles in the first leg of the 2013 Africa Cup Nations qualifier against Liberia in Monrovia at the weekend, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) remains optimistic that Nigeria will qualify for the edition slated for January next year in South Africa.
Spokesman of the NFF board, Chief Emeka Inyama, said in Lagos Monday that there was no compromising Nigeria’s qualification for the 2013 AFCON after missing out of the last edition jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
“There is no compromise on Nigeria’s qualification. The mandate handed out to Stephen Keshi at inception is to qualify Nigeria for both the Nations Cup and the World Cup. That mandate still stands and we on the board of the NFF remain resolute on that,” observed the former sports journalist in his assessment of the first two years of the Aminu Maigari led board Monday.
Inyama insisted that qualifying and winning the Nations Cup is the only thing that can restore the confidence of football loving Nigerians in the Super Eagles. “The target of the board is to win the AFCON in South Africa next year.”
He admitted that the current board which stepped into office shortly after the disastrous Super Eagles outing at the last World Cup in South Africa two years ago, has done more than any other in the pursuit of developmental programmes to ensure steady flow of talents for the national teams.
“We are gradually moving away from the win at all costs syndrome. In two years, we have been able to ensure that under-age programmes attract the right players for the various categories of competitions. We have the Under-15 to ensure that the Under-17 does not resort to getting players from the leagues to attend competitions. This is why in particular, we are happy with the performance of the Falconets in the just concluded FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. Most of them are ready materials for the senior Super Falcons, Same with the John Obuh’s Under-20 male team,” said Inyama, who is also chairman of the reconciliation committee of the board.
He however attributed most of the successes recorded by the current board to the peace that has returned to the country’s football.
“There is no way we want to count our blessings now without having to thank the Honourable Minister of Sports, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, for helping to broker the peace we are now enjoying after that turbulent period of crisis. We are hoping and building on that by reaching out to other stakeholders in the country’s football in our resolve to find a permanent solution for our football to move forward,” stressed the NFF board spokesman.