For the avoidance of doubt, NFF President Sani Lulu Abdullahi, said yesterday that the Federation has not at anytime declared vacant the position of Super Eaglesâ€™ Head Coach, currently occupied by Shuaibu Amodu.
â€œWe appreciate that as a result of Nigeriaâ€™s qualification for the 2010 African Nations Cup and World Cup finals, there is bound to be extensive debate over certain issues. But the NFF wishes to make clear that there is no vacancy for the Head Coachâ€™s position. We have followed the raging debate over a new Head Coach or whatever and we find it necessary to make this clarificationâ€, said Lulu Abdullahi.
Few days to the Moslem worldâ€™s celebration of the Eid-el-Kabir, Lulu reiterated that some people are simply wasting precious time sharpening knives for a ram that had long bolted.
â€œCoaching, as in most sectors of football, has to do with results. Let us forget the sound and fury, and work with statistics. In his 15 years in and out of the senior team as Head Coach, Shuaibu Amodu has lost only one competitive match. In 12 matches during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, he won nine and drew three, losing none.
â€œIt is time that we start appreciating what we have as a people. This is the re-branding that the Federal Government is talking about. It is hard to find a man with such record in todayâ€™s international game, and who has also qualified his country for the FIFA World Cup on two occasions, not even talking about Amoduâ€™s feat in earning us our first berth in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. We made a pledge to stick by Amodu and we will not go back now.
â€œRemarkably, some of those championing the debate are ex-players who were never even good enough to wear the countryâ€™s colours during their time!â€
Lulu made it clear that Wednesdayâ€™s meeting of the NFF Executive Committee will deliberate on how Nigeria can participate creditably at next yearâ€™s African Nations Cup and World Cup finals, as well as in other international engagements.
Amodu, who also qualified Nigeria for the 2002 World Cup finals by leading the Eagles to win their last three matches of an otherwise floundering campaign, attended Fridayâ€™s African Nations Cup Draw ceremony in Luanda, Angola. He was there with NFFâ€™s 1st Vice President Amanze Uchegbulam, General Secretary Bolaji Ojo-Oba and Media Officer Ademola Olajire.
The Eagles are housed in Group C against defending champions Egypt, Mozambique and Benin Republic in the group phase.
Nigeria will play Cup holders Egypt in the opening match of Group C in Benguela with tantalizing games against neighbours Benin Republic and World Cup qualifying foes Mozambique to follow. The match against Mozambique will take place in Lubango
Benguela is 692 kilometres from the capital Luanda.
There is no land transportation in a country devastated by three decades of civil war, and where infrastructure has largely collapsed. There is a big race to get key issues like stadia, airports and hospitals ready for the finals and basic things are in short supply despite oil money.
Benguela is a city of 1.4 million people while Lubango is a city of 2.6 million inhabitants. The Benguela Stadium has capacity for 35,000 people while Lubango Stadium can hold 20,000.
Already, the Nigeria Embassy in Luanda has started mobilizing the approximately 5,000 Nigerians living in Angola to be ready to travel to Benguela and Lubango to support the Super Eagles in January. Nigeriaâ€™s first match is against Egypt on January 12, with the game against Benin Republic coming up four days later and that against Mozambique scheduled for Lubango on January 20.