No ‘strained relationship’ with CAF president, says Pinnick

Amaju Pinnick

Amaju Pinnick

• Urges Nigerians to focus on Super Eagles’ World Cup qualifier against Zambia

President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has said that there is ‘nothing strained’ in the relationship between him and CAF President, Issa Hayatou.

There are insinuations in some quarters that the relationship between Pinnick and Hayatou has been sour since July, when FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Secretary General Fatma Samba Samoura visited Nigeria.

According to www.sportscourtnigeria.blogspot.com, the CAF boss is angry with Pinnick for leaving him out of the elaborate visit of Infantino and Samoura to Nigeria. The report further stated that following the strained relationship between the duo, Nigeria could lose the hosting right of the Africa Beach Soccer Nations Cup, which is scheduled to hold in Lagos in December.

However, Pinnick told The Guardian yesterday in a telephone chat that his relationship with Hayatou remained cordial, adding that the NFF actually dispatched a letter to CAF headquarters in Cairo, Egypt inviting Hayatou and his executives for the visit of Infantino and Samoura to Nigeria.

“Anybody suggesting that the Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets got knocked out of the qualifiers to the 2017 African U-20 and U-17 championships because of a strained relationship between me and Hayatou is not saying the truth. Everybody saw what happened at the Teslim Balogun Stadium during the game between the Flying Eagles and their counterparts from Sudan. Our boys had several scoring opportunities but failed to make good use of it. Was it Hayatou that is supposed to convert those chances for our boys?

“During our preparation for the visit of FIFA President and the Secretary General to Nigeria, we sent a letter of invitation to CAF. I think what should be our main focus for now is how to prepare the Super Eagles for our World Cup qualifiers against Zambia next month. That is my focus and I urge all well-meaning Nigerian football fans to think in that direction,” Pinnick stated.

The report by www.sportscourtnigeria.blogspot.com yesterday stated that the CAF boss is not ready to call off his grouse with Pinnick, stating that the body would soon withdraw the hosting right of the Africa Beach Soccer Nations Cup from Nigeria on the ground that they have lost confidence in the country’s readiness to host the event in December.

According to the report, since the ‘strained relationship’ between Hayatou and Pinnick started in July, Nigerian football had been the worst hit as the Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets got knocked out of the 2017 African championship qualifiers owing largely to some obvious poor officiating against Nigeria.

The report added: “Our source has also confirmed plans to frustrate Nigeria’s Super Falcons from successfully defending the Africa Women’s Nations Cup they won two years ago in Namibia, when the competition starts later in the year in Hayatou’s country, Camerooun,”

Meanwhile, CAF said yesterday that draws for the 2nd edition of the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria 2016, would take place tomorrow (Saturday, 24 September) at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt at 16H00 local time (14H00 GMT).

The qualified teams are host Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Madagascar, Morocco and Senegal.

The statement stated that the final tournament would be held from 13-18 December 2016 in Lagos with the finalists qualifying to represent the continent at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Bahamas in 2017.

NFF First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, is the head of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) set up by Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, for the competition.

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