Amaju Pinnick is a history maker, an achiever, as his posters announced before the September 30 Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] that took place in Katsina last Thursday.
Though many would say he has overachieved, especially with the manner in which he won his second term – the pertinent question would be ‘what has Pinnick done for Nigerian football lately that the NFF Congress presented him with another four years?’
No man or woman has won two consecutive terms in office since the body overseeing football in Nigeria came to be in 1945 and was affiliated with FIFA in 1960. Over the last two decades, men that have held the position of NFF President have been disgraced from their jobs, ignominiously castigated and on some occasions have even had to endure jail term.
But this should surprise nobody with Nigeria’s penchant for playing politics that is a winner-takes-all contest.
It was a landslide in Katsina – with the Delta State-born administrator winning 34 out of the 44 votes cast [over 77% of cast votes], which showed a critical acclaim across the country but what has Pinnick really done for Nigeria lately?
The general indices for any post would be whether the incumbent met the goals stated at the beginning of the administration through their manifesto though there are some intangibles, which cannot be isolated and measured.
What is clear is that the NFF does not boast a publicly tangible map for Nigerian football.
The non-existence of such a map ensured the election was based almost entirely on personality and charisma, qualities Pinnick boasts of in abundant quantities compared to the three men that battled against him – former Eagles defender, Taiwo Ogunjobi, former NFF president, Aminu Maigari, and the relatively unknown Chinedu Okoye.
In the days that followed the end of the 2018 World Cup, Pinnick battled the FIFA-suspended Chris Giwa and by proxy the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, who insisted on the eve of the election that no such contest was on the calendar.
Pinnick has said he will ensure that his victory does not produce greater schisms within the NFF but that should not be his most important aim as he embarks on the second four-year stint.
His first task when he was elected in 2014 was to douse a FIFA rage and a mishandling of then Eagles coach, the late Stephen Keshi and various other complex challenges that could have seen the country banned and it ended in 2018 with another FIFA rage, that had to be quelled by the Presidency – no less!
The major non-starter for the Pinnick administration in the last four years has been the decline of local football competitions and tournaments. Where the Super Eagles have become awash with quality and quantitative sponsorships, the Nigeria Professional Football League, the bastion of football development has seen its ranking coefficient plummet, elaborated with the Super Eagles boasting of just one player from the league at the 2018 World Cup.
After his re-election, Pinnick said, “We just have to do what we need to do and first of the things we want to do is to initiate reforms for our statute. There are some things we need to capture in our statute that will reflect true reconciliation.” True, the statutes may need amending but more importantly, the new board needs to amend its meaning of progress in the game.
Currently, there is an audible sigh of relief from the football fraternity because the elections concluded peacefully and were rancor-free. There is then the belief that the underhand challenges have mitigated progress have come full circle; Pinnick should now be free to embark on developing and not just getting already developed players by other countries into the senior national team, the Super Eagles.
To help Pinnick achieve progress in his second stint are Seyi Akinwumi, who continues as first Vice President and Ibrahim Musa Gusau, who will represent the 37 association chairmen on the board. The others are Felix Agu, Emmanuel Eda, Yusuf Ahmed Fresh, Suleiman Kwande, Babagana Kali, Musa Duhu for North East and Ganiyu Majekodumi.
If truly, this will be “the turning point in Nigerian football”, Pinnick must draw up a map, and make it public so that he can be held properly accountable in 2022. Whatever cannot be measured cannot be improved!
Odion Ighalo shares throwback Photos
Super Eagles player, Odion Ighalo has shared his throwback photos, revealing his journey in football. Ighalo while posting the photos said, he has paid his dues.
Ighalo is the top scorer in the ongoing 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The Changchun Yatai player is the leading top scorer ahead of the tournament scheduled for Cameroon in 2019.
Juventus forced me to leave
AC Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain said he was treated very well by Juventus — right until the moment they forced him out of the club to make way for Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Argentine moved to Milan on loan in August after two seasons at Juventus, where he won two Serie A and Coppa Italia titles.
Higuain also scored 55 goals in 105 appearances in all competitions.
His departure, which he said was not his decision, came shortly after the Turin side signed five-times world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.
Higuain, in an interview published on Thursday, said he felt something was amiss when he was left on the bench for the Coppa Italia final against AC Milan in May.
“That day, I had the feeling inside me that maybe something had broken down. And then they signed Ronaldo,” he said.
“The decision to leave was not mine. I gave everything for Juventus, I won several titles, after which Cristiano arrived.
“The club wanted to make a leap in quality and they told me that I could not stay and that they were trying to find a solution. The best solution was Milan“.
Still, Higuain said there were no hard feelings.
“Mine is a feeling of affection because they treated me very well,” he added. “Companions and supporters have given me huge affection. But I did not ask to leave. Basically, everyone says it, they sent me away.”
Higuain, who will take part in his first derby against Inter Milan on Sunday, has scored four goals in his first nine games for Milan.
“Milan have given me something more after a World Cup which wasn’t great,” he said. “I found what I was looking for.”
World number one, Halep, withdraws from WTA Finals
World number one, Simona Halep, on Thursday pulled out of next week’s World Tennis Association (WTA) finals due to a lower back injury.
“It’s always difficult to withdraw from a big tournament. Actually, I think it’s the first time in my life. So it was a tough decision but it’s better for my health.
“My back is not OK. I didn’t practice for the last four weeks. I’m not ready to compete at this level and I’m still sore. It’s not easy to go on court and compete at this moment.
“The decision was tough for sure,” the 27-year-old Romanian said on her verified Twitter account of an injury sustained during training ahead of the Wuhan Open last month and later diagnosed as a herniated disc.
Halep has enjoyed a stellar season, which saw her reach the Australian Open final before winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open.
“I wanted to finish 2018 on a high after such an incredible year, but sadly my back injury hasn’t healed the way we hoped it would and I need to put my long-term health first.
“I’m sad I won’t be able to play the fifth and final edition in Singapore, but I’m confident this is the right decision and will do everything I can to be back fighting my place at the WTA Finals next year.
“Singapore is a special city and I’m sure the fans will enjoy seeing some fantastic women’s tennis this week,” she added.
Despite withdrawing from Singapore, Halep is guaranteed to end 2018 as world number one for the second year in a row.
In her absence, Kiki Bertens, who finished ninth in the Race to Singapore standings, will be making her WTA Finals debut in the last version of the tournament in Singapore after a five year run in Southeast Asia.
The 26-year-old will be first Dutchwoman to compete at the season-ending showpiece in more than 20 years, since Brenda Schultz-McCarthy lost in the first round in 1997.
Bertens has won three tournaments this season, including a victory over Halep to claim the Cincinnati Masters title.
Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina have also qualified for the $7 million event which will move to Shenzhen next year.
Cloudy, sunny weather, thundery showers to prevail on Saturday – NiMet
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