The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Super Eagles coaching crew led by Sunday Oliseh have issued apology to the government and people of Nigeria over the Super Eagles’ failure to reach the quarterfinals of the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Rwanda.
The Super Eagles which led the Group C table before kick-off of the final matches on Tuesday, crashed out of the tournament following a 0-1 defeat by Guinea at Umunganda stadium in Rubavu.
The Oliseh-led team needed just a draw to advance but Ibrahim Sankhon’s strike in the 45 minutes was enough for the Syli Nationale to steal the maximum points and leapfrog pass the Eagles on the table.
However, following the widespread criticism that trailed the Eagles shocking exit from the tournament, the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick issued an apology statement, stressing that winning the tournament was not the ultimate aim.
“We apologise to Nigerians for the poor outing of the Super Eagles in Rwanda, but we toe the line of CAF which states that CHAN is a developmental and preparatory competition. Of course, as Nigerians, we love to win always, and we feel bad when we don’t.
“I want us to take the positives from this tournament. A player like Chisom Chikatara broke onto the global platform and players like Usman Mohammed, Chima Akas, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Austin Oboroakpo and Ifeanyi Mathew confirmed their class.
“For me, it is disappointing that we did not progress. But the NFF will now focus on the 2017 AFCON qualifiers, and start preparations early for the remaining rounds,” Pinnick said in a statement posted on the NFF website.
Oliseh also tendered unreserved apology for leading the team to defeat against Guinea and exit from CHAN. “We apologize to Nigerians for this loss, we never planned to exit the tournament this early. The boys gave their best”, he explained.
The coach is expected to shift his attention to the Super Eagles top-of-the-table double matches against the Pharaohs of Egypt in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying race with the first leg in Nigeria on March 23 and the return leg in Egypt five days later.
The Eagles will play Chad in N’Djamena later in June before hosting Tanzania in the final round of matches in September.
By Olisemeka Obeche