Can the NFF chief salvage a reign that’s been more bad than good since he took charge in 2014?
When Nigeria has fallen on hard times in the past, football has typically been on hand to bring relief and happiness. In sport, millions of zealous and passionate Nigerian fans have had reason for hope and an ideal escapism from their concerns.
However, in the midst of this current deep economic recession, the Nigerian Football Federation—guardians of that optimism—have only served to leave supporters more infuriated than ever.
Its chief, Amaju Pinnick, has to take a considerable measure of responsibility, and recent protests calling for his removal are a clear sign that enough is enough.
Since the Delta State native assumed office in September 2014, Nigerian football has lurched from one crisis to another.
We would like to request for a bit of perseverance on your part as we journey to our desired football destination – AMP
— Amaju Melvin Pinnick (@PinnickAmaju) July 25, 2015
There hasn’t been any form of stability either on or off the field, while the Glass House has become the setting of a farce. One cannot but weep that Nigeria’s glorious past is fast becoming a distant memory with the present generation struggling not to identify the country’s football with mediocrity and crisis.
That was not the case when the Super Eagles performed beyond expectations at their maiden Fifa World Cup in 1994, reaching a record high of fifth in the world rankings and taking top spot in Africa.
Fast forward 22 years and the country currently finds itself ranked 70th in the world and 16th on the continent, an all-time low.
Of course there have been some positives under Pinnick’s watch, such as the Golden Eaglets winning a record fifth Fifa Under-17 World Cup crown in Chile last year and the Dream Team VI winning the 2015 U-23 Afcon in Senegal.
The negatives, however, are disturbing and, sadly, hard to avoid.
Qualification failures have been the order of his administration, with the Super Eagles missing out on the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in a row.
The Super Falcons won’t be going to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and neither will the Flying Eagles be present at next year’s U-20 Afcon tournament in Zambia.
The ridiculous reshuffle of coaches is probably the biggest reason for Nigeria’s fall under Pinnick.
Using three coaches in the late Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh and Samson Siasia in four Afcon qualification games is the height of an incompetent administration.
Paul Le Guen was announced as the new coach last week and many were relieved that after months of silence, the wait was over, only for French media to report that the former Cameroon boss rejected the offer as the NFF could not meet his terms and conditions.
If that was the case, why then would they go ahead to make a public announcement when there were still details to sort out?
Some have suggested that the NFF thought that by making a public announcement, Le Guen would be forced to agree to their own terms.
It’s a dangerous game to play, a silly way of thinking and it only demonstrates the lack of direction and professionalism under the Pinnick-led administration.
Considering that the path to the 2018 Fifa World Cup is particularly daunting, the coaching issue should have been wrapped up by now…at least if the NFF are serious about guiding the Super Eagles to Russia.
Nigeria don’t have a clear road map to get themselves back on track, and this is why Pinnick needs to go. The longer he stays, the longer the Super Eagles and Nigerian football as a whole will continue to plummet. We may be 70th now, but just how far could we fall under the incumbent administration?
A court judgement in Jos back in April ordered Pinnick to vacate the Glass House and for Chris Giwa to take over.
It shouldn’t get to the stage where a court has to force him out.
Parting shot from @FIFAcom President Giovanni Vincenzo Gianni Infantino #ThankYouInfantino #FIFAInNigeria pic.twitter.com/GJA7X6GbPH
— The NFF (@thenff) July 26, 2016
If the former Delta State FA chief was to examine his tenure so far, he would realise his administration hasn’t lived up to expectations and should voluntarily step down. However, he seems to maintain that a firm grip on power is more important than performance.
We’ve seen that one before…
This is not to say that Giwa is definitely the right man to reverse the fortunes of Nigerian football, as the NFF is still a long way from fixing its deeply rooted administrative problems. However, it is very clear that Pinnick must leave.
If not, the beautiful game’s power to prove succour and encouragement risks being tarnished for good. There might be nothing left to believe any good can come out of a country bewildered by economic hardship.