By Augustine Akhilomen,
December 13, 2017
Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick has tendered an unreserved apology to football lovers in Nigeria for not detecting that Super Eagles defender, Shehu Abdulahi shouldn’t have feature against Algeria in the last group match of the 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Pinnick explained that the official match documents of NFF didn’t show that the player was on a yellow card and Nigeria went on the match not knowing about FIFA’s notice.
This in turn made the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) to sanction Nigeria by awarding Algeria the three points.
Mr Pinick using his official Twitter handle @PinnickAnaju on Wednesday admitted the mistake by the NFF leading to the use of the player taking responsibility for the error as head of NFF.
“Good morning. I’ll start by tendering my wholehearted apology to Nigeria and Nigerians for the Shehu’s error. It
is unforgivable and could have undone months of hard work. As head of the Federation, I take responsibility for this. It happened on my watch.
“While accepting the Federation’s fault here, let me quickly explain how this went by unnoticed. It doesn’t change the fact that we didn’t keep our eyes on the ball and will help us in our planned restructuring of the Technical and Competitions Department,” he said.
“Shehu got his first yellow card in our very first preliminary match against Swaziland away. When the draws for the Group Stages were made, the Technical staff made a grave error; assumption. They assumed the cards gotten prior would not count.
“To be fair to them, throughout the qualifying series, official match documents didn’t even show that Shehu was on a yellow card. For instance, when we played Cameroon, Mikel, Moses and Balogun were put on notice that they had yellow cards. Team meetings were even held about how to handle their cards so they wouldn’t miss crucial games. He was never in the mix. He then received a yellow against Zambia in our penultimate game, two years after the Swaziland match.
Meanwhile the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Wednesday said it has started looking into the issues which led to Nigeria being sanctioned by world football ruling body FIFA.
The federation, in a statement by its Communications Department, said First Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi has been named head of a four-man panel to unravel the issues behind the slip.