first_imgHaving successfully put the house in order, Pinnick whose chairmanship of Delta Football Federation and tenure as director general of Delta Sports Commission recorded 288 medals including 114 gold, 99 silver and 75 bronze medals for the state, beamed his searchlight on coaches and gradually, the national teams were all allocated new coaches, giving preference to ex-internationals alongside other contenders.Ex –International, Sunday Oliseh was subsequently appointed to coach the Super Eagles and he had a short stint with the team before he was replaced by a German Coach, Gernot Rohr, an experienced tactician who has coached the national teams of Burkina Faso and Gabon.Pinnick then undertook the tour of Europe and other top leagues in the world where he met and discussed with several Nigerian players. The result was the influx of new faces into the national teams, with a resurgence of interest by different players in playing for the Super Eagles.A new era gradually emerged and competition for places in the team became tough, thereby raising the standard of the team.Within two years, a new Super Eagles gradually evolved and from different friendlies to competitive matches, the team began to win the confidence of the nation, with the coaches putting them through different tactical regimen towards achieving the best formation. Before long, the best eleven, backed by a formidable bench that can support the team at all times emerged.Within a year, the country’s ratings on FIFA ranking improved tremendously.Though Nigeria missed out of the African Cup of Nations, it was an important learning curve and with 100 per cent support from the Pinnick-led NFF, the national team forged ahead undeterred.Among the new faces that  have now become household names in the national team are Leon Balogun, a fast improving central defender with Mainz FC in Germany; Troost Ekong of Bursador in Turkey, who partners Leon in the defence, Odion Ighalo, Moses Simon, Abdullahi Shehu, Ola Aina, Kelechi Ihenacho, Alex Iwobi, Wilifed Ndidi ,Tyron Ebuechi and others. They have joined the likes of Ogenyi Onazi, Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Oghenekaro Etebo and Elderson Echiejile in forming a rock solid national team.The 2018 World Cup qualifiers commenced in earnest and the Eagles were drawn in Group D alongside Algeria, Cameroun and Zambia.The team started the qualifiers with a victory in Ndola, Zambia where the Zambian National team, Chipolopolo were defeated by two goals to one with goals coming from Leicester city’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi of Arsenal.Next was the top African side, Algeria who were rated as the best African side in the last World Cup and occupied the top spot in African football ranking. The Eagles thrashed the desert foxes by three goals to one at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo to move up to the commanding position in the Group with six points.After a long break, the qualifiers resumed in August, but before then the Eagles comprising mostly upcoming players lost by 2 goals to nil to the well prepared Bafana Bafana in the 2018 African Cup of Nations qualifiers. This was a strong lesson for the Eagles and a wake-up call, especially in the World Cup qualifiers.Immediately, the Pinnick-led NFF board sprang to action and the technical team was given a marching order. The team bounced back from the setback with victories in different friendlies. It was also reinforced with regular players that missed the Bafana Bafana match.The result of the action of the NFF was more than what Nigerians bargained for. The rampaging Super Eagles thrashed the defending champion of African Cup of Nation, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun, picking four out of six maximum points. The Lions lost by four un-replied goals in Uyo and forced the Eagles to1-1 draw in Yaounde in the return leg of the round-robin encounter. The Eagles then extended their lead at the top of Group D, posting a total of 10 points.Meanwhile, the Pinnick-led NFF started as early as September to put all plans in place to ensure that the Chipolopolos crash in Uyo on October 7 in order to facilitate easy passage to the 2018 World Cup for the Eagles and making the final qualifying match against Algeria a mere formality by end of the year.This came to pass when the Zambians came calling in Uyo and were beaten by a lone goal scored by Arsenal’s Iwobi. Thus, the Super Eagles became the first African country to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. What a feat!Our Football is gradually taking shape and the sky is the limit. The Pinnick touch has paid off and the Eagles are not looking back. Next is the resumption of 2018 Nations Cup qualifiers and the Eagles are set to make Nigeria proud again.Perhaps it is pertinent at this juncture to ask who is Amaju Pinnick?Amaju was born as the 15th of 19 children to the family of Chief Oritsetimeyin Japhet Pinnick. He graduated from the University of Benin, with a second class upper in Political Science and Public Administration in 1994.  From Primary School through Secondary to University level and afterwards, Pinnick has always been involved in football and Nigeria has started to benefit from his experience and expertise.In March 2017, Pinnick won a seat into the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football.He defeated incumbent Moucharafou Anjorin of Benin Republic by 32 to 17 votes at the CAF elective Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.Nigeria thus made a return to the highest organ in CAF since the exit of Dr. Amos Adamu.As the Super Eagles march forward to the 2018 World Cup, setting good examples for other national teams including the Flying Eagles, U-23, U-20, U-17 and Super Falcons, one could only hope that the new found aura of victory around the senior national team would stimulate an enduring rebirth for Nigerian football.A new era beckons in Nigeria Football. The Pinnick magic is paying off.–Mohammed ibn Mohammed is the Sports Communications Manager @First World Communications @Consulting Limited, Lagos.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Working with clear focus, Amaju Pinnick triumphed over initial distractions including litigation and instantly began consultations with football stakeholders across the country with a single minded objective of forming a united and focused football body that would work assiduously towards uplifting Nigerian football.Next was the strategic plan. Working side by side with the NFF executives, particularly the Chairman of the League Management Committee, a tested football administrator, Mallam Shehu Dikko and Mr.Seyi Akinwunmi, another experienced football bureaucrat, who are both Vice Presidents in the Nigeria Football Federation Board, the Pinnick-led Board came up with series of innovations and modern techniques in managing the national teams. One of this is the periodic visits to different clubs across the world where our national team players ply their trade. This has improved the hitherto frosty relationship between the country and the clubs, especially on timely release of players for national teams’ assignments. When Amaju Melvin Pinnick emerged as the President of Nigeria Football Federation on September 30, 2014, little did football loving Nigerians know that a messiah who will revolutionise the game had hit the Glass House in Abujalast_img

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