FALLOUT OF AFCON FLOP. Nigeria’s FIFA ranking to drop

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  • World Cup fixtures to be affected too
    …as NFF assures Siasia of job

With Nigeria’s loss to Egypt in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches, the country’s ranking by FIFA, ahead of the draws of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is bound to drop abysmally. Egypt pipped Nigeria 1-0 in Alexandia, Egypt, on Tuesday, following a 1-1 draw the two countries played in Kaduna, Friday, last week.

Uba Group

A top member of the football house who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Point that the performance against the North Africans may now confine the Eagles to Pot 3 during the world Cup draw later in the year.

“We are in a tight corner as it concerns the rankings after the defeat on Tuesday. The truth remains that we must strive to improve on our goal scoring and overall play before the final rounds of the World Cup qualifiers. As it stands now, we cannot escape playing a team
from Africa’s Top 10 sides like Côte d ‘Ivoire, Algeria or even Ghana or Cape Verde Islands. So, we, at the NFF, must start charting a new beginning for Eagles. Time is running out,” our source stressed. As things stand now, Nigeria are 62nd ranked team in the world and 11th in Africa and my on this count, fall in Pot 3 of seeds along with Guinea, Uganda, South Africa and
Mali. Pot 1 will have the continent’s top teams Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Ghana and Tunisia. Pot 2 will comprise Senegal, Egypt, DR Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Cameroon while the last pots of the 20 qualifiers will have Gabon, Zambia, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Libya.

This is a scenario that is boggling decision-makers at the Nigeria Football Federation, it was learnt. Speaking on the way forward, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, confirmed that the football house has now turned focus to the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches after the defeat in Alexandria during the week, thereby failing to make it to the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon.

“Naturally, I’m not happy. I feel very bad that we did not qualify for 2017 AFCON. In all we have seen, our focus now is qualifying for the World Cup, but the good news is: we saw a display of soccer artistry by the Eagles, reminding us of Tunisia ’94 squad and I beg Nigerians to forgive us.

“We played very well and were also commended by the Egyptians. I want to believe on a personal note that we actually lost the game in Kaduna when we conceded that last minute goal but God knows why. Our focus now is on World Cup qualification and preparations. We are also taking advantage of all the FIFA windows available. Moments after the game on Tuesday, I called our match agent to make sure in two windows available in June; we’ll explore them by playing teams that are highly rated than us in the FIFA rankings in every other available window,” he pleaded.

The draw for the final round of African Zone qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be held at the CAF headquarters in Cairo on June 24, 2016. Matches are expected to commence
in October 2016, with sides playing each other home and away on a round-robin basis. All five
group winners will qualify automatically for Russia 2018.

‘FOREIGN COACH NOT OUR PRIORITY’
Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as vice-president Shehu Dikko has restated that the football house has no plans to appoint a foreign coach for the team despite their ouster from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nation in Gabon after losing to Egypt on Tuesday. Dikko, who also doubles as Chairman of the Nigeria Professional Football League revealed that their decision regarding Samson Siasia’s future with the national team wasn’t tied solely on the result of the Pharaohs encounter.

“It’s certainly not a priority and indeed the new national orientation campaign in Nigeria is to look in house and use made in Nigeria on everything except where it’s extremely necessary then we look foreign. This is the only way to rebuild the country and indeed football cannot be an exception.

“In our Nigeria football industry now the campaign is hugely focusing on getting the fans and corporate bodies to turn their hearts and pockets towards supporting the domestic game instead of foreign football which has gradually taking over the football space in Nigeria to the
detriment of the domestic game,” Dikko was quoted by a cross section of Egyptian media.

“Rather the biggest determinant would be his readiness to situate his project for the Super Eagles within the NFF overall objectives of returning the Supers Eagles to their enviable position as the best in Africa and indeed the world by building a team that will be feared by all and be winning trophies sustainably and playing the entertaining football we are all known for,” the NPFL boss explained.