EAGLES NOT YET SUPER - MAIGARI
Alhaji Aminu Maigari has confessed that the current national team lacks the 'super' status even as he admitted that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) under his leadership is under enormous pressure to deliver.
The NFF boss, who spoke to Saturday Sunsports recently disclosed that the dream of his board is to raise world-beating squads in all the national teams both in the men as well as the women categories.
Maigari played down on the myriad of crises that have characterized his tenure stressing that his board would remain focused in its resolve to develop the game of football in the country.
'So far so good we (NFF) want to appreciate the Almighty God and fellow Nigerians, particularly, the stake holders, who have been behind us even at odd times. You're a living witness that we have gone far because we've recorded quite a number of successes at various national teams, both male and female categories' the NFF boss began.
He went on: 'The challenges have been quite enormous to the extent that pressure is on the NFF, particularly from the stakeholders who want to see us win and win all the time. And in attempt to win everything, we made some mistakes along the line. But we, on the board of the NFF, still remain focused in our resolve to develop the game of football in the country.
'We must copy what other countries in the developing world are doing. We are pursuing a developmental programme. We're not yet satisfied with what we have so far in all the categories of the national teams. We shall continue with the developmental programme until we get to a level where we can beat our chests and say we are now ready to face any team in the world. That is our target. I want to assure Nigerians that we'll get there,' the Kaduna State-born football technocrat assured.
Nigerians have been apprehensive of the Super Eagles' chance of qualification for next year's Africa Cup of Nations following the team's dicey 2-2 draw against the Walyas of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, a result that has confined Nigeria to the second position behind Guinea in the Group.
But Maigari is optimistic that the Samson Siasia-tutored side would stem the tide to pick the sole ticket from the group for the party billed for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon next year.
'Our main target now is to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. And I want to assure you that we're leaving no stone unturned to make sure that Nigeria qualifies. We have sat down with the coaches and they agreed that it is a task that must be done. We are appealing to every stakeholder to help us achieve the dream. But Nigerians should be rest assured that the Super Eagles shall qualify for the Nations Cup, God willing,' he assured.
'We're not distracted in any way by the things we've been reading in the newspapers. We're running the day-to-day business of football in the country. We remain focused. All the national teams are doing well, so, as far as I'm concerned, there's no crisis in Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The government of the day is with us. FIFA is with us. The stakeholders are with us because they know what is right. And we want to use this opportunity to make a better Nigeria through football,' the NFF boss pledged.
On his projection for Nigerian football in the next two years, Maigari replied:
'My prayer is to see Nigeria have solid national teams, both male and female and in all categories- Under-17, Under-20, Under-23 and Senior levels. We have even introduced Under-13 and Under-14 categories as part of the developmental programme. So, we want to have solid teams that Nigerians would be proud of. That is my prayer.
'We also want to leave a legacy of a befitting secretariat for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) because we are not comfortable at the Glass House, where we are at the moment. The secretariat needs refurbishing and we're going to refurbish it. But we need to build a befitting Glass House for the football federation. Nigeria is a big football nation, so we cannot afford to settle for anything below international standard'.