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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2019: Super Eagles should repay Nigeria President Buhari's faith with title – Pinnick

11:15 PM IST 09/07/19
Amaju Pinnick - Nigeria
The Nigerian Football Federation boss has charged the Super Eagles not to underrate the Bafana Bafana in their quest for glory in Egypt

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Amaju Pinnick has urged the Super Eagles to repay the support of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari with the Africa Cup of Nations title, ahead of their quarterfinal clash with South Africa on Wednesday.

Nigeria came from behind to overcome holders Cameroon 3-2 in the Round of 16 to set up a clash against Bafana Bafana in the quarterfinals, after the South Africans condemned host nations Egypt to a 1-0 defeat at the Cairo International Stadium last Saturday.

The two countries clashed in the Afcon 2019 qualifiers, with Stuart Baxter’s men recording a 2-0 win in Nigeria before playing out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture.

Addressing the players in their hotel on Tuesday, Pinnick stressed on the importance of the game to Nigerians and to the President of the country.

“I am happy with what we have done so far,” Pinnick said in a video clip posted on Twitter by the BBC’s Osasu Obayiuwana.

“Now we are going to play a very big game tomorrow [against South Africa], it’s a very massive game; two proud footballing countries, two historic footballing counties.

“The country is going through a transition, so the only thing that gives them [Nigerians] joy right now is what you people are going to do on the field tomorrow.

“On our path, we have kept faith; we have kept our side of the bargain and have done everything humanly and materially possible. And like I said, I always carry your captain [John Obi Mikel] along […] so you see a bit of transparency in anything that we are doing. That will entrench trust in our relationship. Trust is very important.

“When I come here to talk it’s not because I want to talk or I can talk or I know how to talk, no. The important thing is that the president of the country [Muhammadu Buhari] has demonstrated enough support.

"The only way we can pay him back is ensuring that we go beyond South Africa tomorrow, go beyond Algeria/Ivory Coast in the semi-finals and get to the finals and also lift the trophy on the 19th. And I believe with the faces I am seeing here we can do it."

The Super Eagles, who have been tipped as one of the tournament favourites, struggled somewhat in the Group Stage – winning narrowly against Burundi and Guinea, before losing 2-0 to Madagascar in the final group match.

Pinnick, who also doubles as Vice-President of Caf, advised Gernot Rohr’s men to be more cautious to avoid mistakes and also intensify their efforts.

“It’s just to double your effort – and that’s the truth. Go the extra mile, minimise the mistakes generally and the mistakes around the box," he added

"We know South Africa’s style of play, but we should never underrate any African team or any football team anymore. Play your game; your focus should be the ball and their net. I am really appreciative, everything you have requested you will get."