Go For Fifth Crown, NFF Boss Tells Golden Eaglets
‘I Resisted Pressure To Sack Amuneke’
“Today, you convinced Nigerians you are the best and I want to thank you on behalf of Nigerians, especially President Muhammadu Buhari, for playing your hearts out and truly demonstrating the never-say-die Nigerian spirit.”
Those were the words of NFF President, Amaju Pinnick while rejoicing with players and officials of the Golden Eaglets after beating Mexico 4-2 to secure passage to the final of the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.
The Eaglets came from a goal down to thrash the Mexicans and set up an all-African final against Mali tomorrow.
Pinnick, who left Nigeria for Chile on Tuesday, said amidst thunderous ovation inside the Eaglets’ locker room at the Estadio Municipal Ester Roa after the victory that the story would be sweeter if the Eaglets can beat Mali and win their fifth crown tomorrow.
He also revealed how he was pressurized by certain individuals to sack coach Emmanuel Amuneke after the Eaglets failed to win the African U-17 title in Niger Republic earlier this year.
“Here in Chile, Emmanuel has shamed all the doubting Thomases, but I don’t want you to forget that the most important match is against Mali on Sunday. This is a life -time opportunity for you to write your names in gold and you know how appreciative our country can be to winners and heroes. Sunday is the day to write your names into the history books,” Pinnick noted.
Meanwhile, Coach Amuneke has declared that Mali, who also came from behind to beat Belgium 3-1 in the other semi final match, would be a tough nut to crack.
History will be made tomorrow with the second all-African FIFA U-17 World Cup final since 1993, when Nigeria beat Ghana 2-1 at Japan ’93, and Amuneke said: “The Malians are the African champions, and we have to respect them. Aside that, they have also had a great tournament here in Chile. But we are a team that finds a way to play and function no matter the difficulty posed by the opposition.”
The 1994 African Footballer of the Year added: “When Sunday comes, we are going to play Mali and I think it is going to be an interesting match but we want to enjoy this moment because this was a great match against a very strong Mexican team. We thank God, we are going to play the final again on Sunday and this gives us the opportunity to defend the trophy we won in 2013.”