“After they scored the fourth goal, I shed tears for the first time in a long time,” an emotional Amaju Pinnick told the Super Eagles after Nigeria and Sierra Leone played a 4-4 draw.
Pinnick, who is the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), shared how he felt with the players on Friday in their dressing room after the game ended.
The match, which held at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, the Edo State capital, was the first leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the two teams.
He stated that the Nigerian team had no excuse to share points with the visiting side after leading by four goals.
Pinnick believes football lovers are disappointed with the performance of the Eagles in the match, noting that it is the worst result recorded by the team since he became the NFF president.
He said, “I will say it the way it is in my heart and the hearts of so many Nigerians; the truth is that we can’t be leading 4-0 to Sierra Leone and concede four goals for no reason, there is no reason.
“Since I became the president of NFF, this is the worst result I have seen in my life and in the next few days, I wonder how I’m going to sleep.”
“It’s not because of losing, it’s not because we won’t qualify for the Nations Cup, it’s certainly because this is towards the end of the year, you know the passion, the love Nigerians have for this game.
“It’s football, definitely, it’s football; it can go either way, but what happened to us? Were we complacent? Were we just so comfortable that we were leading 4-0 and all of a sudden, the goals started coming in?” the NFF president queried.
He stressed that the nation’s football governing body made sure it provided the necessary support to ensure Nigeria succeeded in the game.
According to Pinnick, the blame will not be on the players but neither him nor the Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr was on the pitch.
He, however, stated that the only way for the Eagles to redeem themselves was to beat Sierra Leone in the return-leg by a margin of four goals.
The NFF president said, “It is for us to go to Sierra Leone and beat them that 4-0 and make sure they don’t score one. That is the only thing we will do from the blast of the whistle till the end of that game.”
“The beauty about falling down is the resurgence in us to bounce back, bounce back in a grand style because what you’ve done to them is that you’ve given them the confidence that Nigeria is beatable.
“We must re-engineer this team, we must go to Freetown and we must beat them in Freetown by those four goals so that we would know truly that the Eagles have landed,” Pinnick told the players.
The return-leg is scheduled to take place on Tuesday next week at the Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone.