President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick has reiterated that preparing the Super Eagles adequately to win the Africa Cup of Nations title this summer is the major focus of the Federation for this year, while also making it clear that Nigeria is interested in putting up excellent performances in every competition she is involved in.
Pinnick, who is also 1st Vice President of the Confederation of African Football and President of the AFCON Organizing Committee, said at the weekend that a fourth Africa Cup of Nations title is overdue for Nigeria, one of the biggest football –playing nations of the universe.
“There are so many competitions this year and we intend to, as usual, put our best foot forward in each and everyone of them. The target always is to emerge victorious. However, the very big one that we do not want to miss is the AFCON title. We have won it three times but we want it for a fourth time so that we can close the gap with the likes of Egypt and Cameroon.
“The NFF will work with the technical crew to achieve an excellent preparation of the Super Eagles for the tournament. Everything legitimate would be done to ensure the Super Eagles triumph in Egypt.
“The NFF will equally give the Super Falcons all the support to perform excellently at the World Cup.”
Egypt have won the Africa Cup of Nations title seven times. Cameroon have emerged champions on five occasions while Ghana have four titles to her name.
The CAF Executive Committee on Tuesday last week voted for Egypt, hosts of the 1959, 1986 and 2006 editions of the competition, to host the first –ever 24 –nation finals scheduled for 15th June – 13th July this year.
The Super Eagles, like they did in the qualifying race for last year’s FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, have earned a ticket to the finals with a match to spare, following a 1-1 draw with South Africa in Johannesburg on 17th November 2018. They take on Seychelles in a purely ceremonial session in Asaba on 22ndMarch to conclude the campaign.
“The match against Seychelles will serve as the beginning of our preparations for the AFCON, to be followed four days later by a friendly against the Egyptian National Team at the same venue.
“The team would likely play two matches during its final training camp before the AFCON finals.”
The Draw Ceremony for the four –week, 24 –nation championship is expected to be done at the end of March.
Nigeria won her first AFCON title on home soil in 1980, when Olusegun Odegbami scored two of the goals in a 3-0 whiplash of Algeria in the Final at the National Stadium, Lagos on 22nd March 1980.
The second title came in Tunisia in 1994. Emmanuel Amuneke scored both goals in a 2-1 comeback defeat of Zambia at the Stade El Menzah in Tunis on 10th April 1994.
In 2013, Sunday Mba got the only goal of the final against Burkina Faso at Soccercity, Johannesburg on 10thFebruary 2013 to give the Super Eagles their third African title.
Apart from the AFCON, Nigerian teams would this year be involved in the Africa U20 Cup of Nations (from where the Flying Eagles expect to qualify for the FIFA U20 World Cup), Africa U17 Cup of Nations (from where the Golden Eaglets expect to qualify for the FIFA U17 World Cup), FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, qualifying series for the Africa U23 Cup of Nations, qualifying series for the All-Africa Games football tournaments, qualifying series for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics football tournaments, qualifying matches for the 2020 African Nations Championship, qualifying matches for the 2020 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, qualifying matches for the 2020 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup and the preliminary round for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.