Super Eagles: A Terribly Damaged Brand Under Pinnick Tarnished Watch
The Super Eagles are Nigeria Football’s biggest brand, the flagship of the country’s No 1 sport, but under the tarnished watch of Amaju Pinnick, the team, once the pride of the nation, have continued to stumble from one disgraceful setback to the other.
Ironically, the Eagles have been the only focal point of Pinnick to the utter detriment of other national teams as well as other aspects of football development as huge resources have reportedly been lavished on the team.
Under the NFF led by Pinnick, the Eagles failed to qualify for two AFCONs back-to-back, the 2015 and 2017 editions.
And even when they finally landed at the AFCON that they have previously won thrice, they could only manage third place at the 2019 tournament in Egypt.
Qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia was greeted with so much expectation and even the hype of a semifinal finish by the showman himself Pinnick.
But sadly it all ended in a huge anti-climax as the Eagles failed to fly beyond the group stage of the competition.
Before then the team were enmeshed in a scandalous administrative bungling after FIFA docked all three points from Nigeria for fielding an ineligible player, Shehu Abdullahi, in a qualifying match in Algeria.
The NFF set up a panel of enquiry to investigate this embarrassment, but till date the findings of that probe have yet to be made public because the leadership of the federation was most culpable.
We also now have a growing list of results by the Eagles that were never super –
10 June 2017 Nigeria 0 South Africa 2
The country’s national team lost for the first time ever an official match to Bafana Bafana.
30 June 2019 Nigeria 0 Madagascar 2
The AFCON debutants humbled their more illustrious opponents at the 2019 tournament in Egypt.
13 November, 2020 Nigeria 4 Sierra Leone 4
The Eagles surrendered a four-goal lead in Benin City to draw this 2021 AFCON qualifier with the fellow West Africans.
7 October, 2021 Nigeria 0 Central African Republic 1
Karl Namnganda, who plies his trade in the French fourth division league, snatched a famous victory for the Wild Beasts of Central African Republic and inflict Nigeria’s first home defeat in a World Cup qualifier in 40 years. CAR are ranked 124th in the world.
Besides these losses, controversies have continued to surround the team and their 68-year-old coach Gernot Rohr.
These controversies range from unpaid bonuses, allowances and salaries.
Only last week, it came out that Rohr, who pays some of his assistants, has not been paid for eight months!
Rohr himself has not been devoid of controversies, from call-ups to his questionable team selections to tactical cluelessness and total disregard for players in the NPFL.
This is also not to forget his more than close ties with the agent, William D’Avila (DW Sports Management), who manages the majority of the players in the national team, from Henry Onyekuru to Moses Simon, Samuel Kalu and Valentine Ozornwafor.
It has already been alleged that a player who wishes to enjoy a good run in the Eagles must sign up with this agent, who coincidentally enjoys a great relationship with the NFF boss as well.
It is said that the private jet of the agent is often at the disposal of the official to fly across Europe.
These allegations will explain why despite all the bungling in the last six years of torture, Baba Rohr still enjoys the total confidence and support of Pinnick.
Business partners (or is it partners in crime?) must stick together come rain, come shine.