Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been handed the mandate to reach the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, billed to hold in Russia.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick made this known at the weekend. He said: “All efforts we are building now are geared towards getting Nigeria to play the semi-finals in Russia. We have the manpower to do that. The talent in Nigeria is amazing.”
Pinnick’s comments might come as a surprise given Nigeria failed to qualify for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
Two years ago they won the title but their decline has been brought about by a mixture of turmoil within the NFF, the sacking and rehiring of coach Stephen Keshi and threats of Fifa bans for government interference in football matters.
Pinnick, who assumed control of Nigerian football last September believes technology, ‘capacity-building’ for coach Keshi, a better local league, the country’s natural ability and enhanced administration can provide the platform for significant growth.
“We are in the process of acquiring match analysis software, so that when we go back home, we won’t play our matches blindly. We are starting late but we are getting it right, that’s the most important point,” Pinnick said, adding, “If we don’t get to the World Cup semi-finals, we’ll get very close.”
He also hinted that Keshi would undergo tutelage at the hands of Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger. The three-time African champions have reached the Round of 16 on three of their five World Cup appearances.