Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has assured Nigerians that the Africa Cup of Nations will land in Abuja in July, as the Super Eagles are condemned to win the tournament this summer.
Pinnick, in a monitored interview over the weekend, said that the Nigerian team will not be going to Egypt to aim the second round, or quarter-finals, as the trophy remains the focus of the team.
According to Pinnick, “If you have a son, you will not want him to be an armed robber, you will prefer him being a medical doctor, so we want to win the tournament, not just participate. We are condemned to going to Egypt to win the AFCON and that is our focus. We are not just going to play for round of sixteen or quarter finals, we have won it before, we can do it again. We are working and praying towards it, and we believe that we will do well.
Speaking on what the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has done so far to help the preparations for the Super Eagles, Pinnick, who doubles as the President of the Africa Cup of Nations committee revealed that chartered flights and a training camp have been secured for the boys.
“On the part of the federation, we have done everything that we need to do. We have secured a chartered flight that will be taking them straight from Asaba to Cairo, and we have secured a training camp in Egypt. The boys will not need to go to Abu Dhabi, Turkey or France, before the competition begins, so acclimatization will start early” he said
Amaju Pinnick further denied forcing the coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr to include striker, Kelechi Iheanacho on the team to fly to Egypt. He said he only advised the coach, leaving him to take the final decision.
In his words “We have a contract with the coach, such that after the selection of players is done, he sends to me, and I send it to the technical committee, without altering it, and then it is sent back to the coach, before he releases it to the public.
“However, I advised the coach on Iheanacho, and I don’t have any regret about it. It was the same thing I did during the time of Ahmed Musa, when he was facing problems in his marriage and in Leicester City. I told the coach that if a football club does not help the player, it is the country that should help the player. Now look at what Musa did at the World Cup. It is the same thing with Iheanacho, there are some reasons he left Pep Guardiola and Manchester City which I don’t want to say, but I am happy that other players are also saying it. He went to Leicester City and is adjusting, and he is young and an enterprising left-footed player. If he does not go to the AFCON now, when will he go? He can even be the hero of the tournament at the end of the day.
“But I told the coach that he has the final decision to make. If I was the President of Nigeria, and I see an issue to advice the coach on, I would have done the same.”
The Super Eagles began camping for the 2019 AFCON on Sunday, and will play a friendly match against Zimbabwe in Asaba on June 8, before jetting out to Cairo, where they face Senegal on June 16th in another friendly game. They have been grouped to face Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar in the Nations Cup, which holds from June 21st to July 19th.