The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, has said that the 2-0 defeat of the Super Eagles to Madagascar on Sunday at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations was an “eye-opener”.
He backed the Nigerian team in their first defeat at the 2019 AFCON despite several criticisms.
Pinnick, who addressed the players, alongside Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, in their dressing room after the loss, assured them of NFF and President Muhammadu Buhari’s support.
He, however, warned them against underestimating teams as they progress to play in the knockout stages of the competition.
He said, “It might be a sad day but it is not a bad day. This is an eye-opener. No team should be underestimated. It is an eye-opener in the sense that we should not prepare to play a weak team in the second round. There is no weak team in AFCON. Now, let us be ready for the big teams.
“In the last AFCON that we won, we started slowly. We were 10 minutes away from being eliminated in the first round then we scored two goals against Ethiopia, and we won the AFCON. Let us rise up. Individually, let us rekindle our spirit – the spirit of Naija. We did our best but it was not good enough.
“We are not pushing the burden on you; it is the collective burden from all of us. There is no team that has not been beaten. It was just a bad day. Please let us make that old man and Nigerians happy. Let them call us whatever name, but we know that we will be going to Aso Rock with the trophy.”