AFCON Exit: Nigeria Shifts Focus to 2018 FIFA World Cup
After failing to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations in Gabon, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says special attention will be given to ensure the Super Eagles feature at the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.
According to the Federation, the board remains united and resolute in its commitment to building a sustainable football culture for the country, by employing resources at its disposal diligently, purposefully and responsibly.
The Nigeria Football Federation issued a statement following the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals:
The NFF, like most Nigerians, are saddened by the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final competition, following a 1-0 defeat by seven –time African champions Egypt in Alexandria on Tuesday, 29th March 2016.
We see this failure to qualify as an unfortunate turn of events, because it came despite the undoubted efforts of the Coaching crew led by Coach Samson Siasia and the players led by the captain, Mikel Obi, and the efforts of the NFF leadership who not only supported the technical crew but also provided necessary support regarding comfortable traveling arrangement and accommodation for the team’s home and away matches.
. Football being the paramount national pastime in our dear country, we understand and share the disappointment in the land. But we crave the indulgence of all to continue to support the team and the NFF going forward as we continue to nurture and navigate a painful but positive path towards a glorious future for Nigeria football.
It is rather unfortunate that Chad, one of the teams in the qualification group, suddenly pulled out of the race, leaving only three teams left in the group, and only the winner of the the group guaranteed qualification. This appeared to have taken away our worst –case scenario of qualification. However, our legal unit is looking at the propriety of changing the rules midstream.
. In the next one week, the Technical and Development Committee will meet to make recommendations to the NFF Board on the way forward for the Super Eagles, but already, we can disclose that the NFF has now fully shifted its focus to activating its already prepared plan to give the team all the support it needs to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while continuing to build a sustainable football culture for Nigeria in order to make Nigerian football once more a force to be reckoned with.
Failure to reach the Africa Cup of Nations remains a gnawing pain, but we have decided to take a number of positives from the unsuccessful campaign and in particular the two matches against Egypt. The development of a new and youthful team playing swashbuckling, strong, resolute and exciting kind of football Nigeria has been known for was a soothing balm even in the face of the challenging campaign.
. In preparing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting later this year, the NFF will ensure that it utilizes all FIFA windows for international friendlies for the Super Eagles, starting in June with two games against teams of high ranking. The outstanding Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania in September would also serve as a tune –up for the World Cup qualification games.
. We want to use this medium to commend the efforts of Samson Siasia and Emmanuel Amuneke, who took very seriously and professionally the job of preparing the Super Eagles for the matches, with only three weeks to do the job. They have shown extraordinary courage and purposefulness, and the NFF will never forget their contributions to Nigeria football.
As it is, Nigeria is one of only three teams that will represent Africa at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, having won the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal in December 2015. The NFF will give Coach Siasia all the support to excel at the Games, by winning the football gold. We will also continue to support the U-20 men squad, managed by Amuneke, in order to ensure the team’s qualification for the 2017 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations and the U-20 World Cup, as well as the U-17 boys for the 2017 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations and the U-17 World Cup, for which we are the defending champions.
. We are also working on maximum support for the women’s National Teams ahead of the African Women Cup of Nations, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – all taking place this year.
Our sincere appreciation goes to the Federal Government for continued support for Nigeria football, and our sponsors for the invaluable role they play in the nation’s football development. We particularly commend the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, for their very kind gesture and solid support for the Super Eagles in both matches against Egypt, and indeed other matches before these.
Nigeria missed out of the 2012 edition, won the title in 2013 in South Africa, failed to qualify for the tournament in 2015 and will not compete in the 2017 edition in Gabon.
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