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“Osimhen would have been like Maradona” – Pinnick rues Super Eagles’ absence at Qatar World Cup

The football administrator was the NFF president for eight years before vacating the seat in October

Former president of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick has lamented the absence of the Super Eagles at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

During Pinnick’s eight-year reign as the NFF boss, Nigeria qualified for the 2018 World Cup but missed out on the 2022 edition.

Ghana’s Black Stars edged the Super Eagles to the Qatar 2022 finals ticket back in March after advancing on the away-goal rule.

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The tournament proper has been a grand spectacle for African teams: Senegal are through to the knockout round, while Cameroon, Morocco, and Ghana still have a decent chance of progressing beyond the group stage.

Senegal, 2022 World Cup
Senegal, 2022 World Cup

Tunisia’s Atlas Lions are out of the World Cup, but they left the tournament with pride after beating reigning champions France in their final match.

Impressed by the outing of the African representatives, Pinnick believes Nigeria would have performed even better if they were in Qatar.

In a chat with Arise TV on Thursday, Pinnick maintains that Osimhen would have guided the Super Eagles to glory as Diego Maradona did with Argentina at the 1986 World Cup.

The football administrator after that apologised to Nigeria for his role in Nigeria’s absence at the Mundial.

“This [Qatar 2022] could have been Nigeria’s World Cup,” Pinnick said. “Osimhen would have been like Maradona in 1986 in that World Cup.

“Like I told the African teams [like Senegal and Morocco], we want an African team to win it [ the World Cup], but if you people don’t, Nigeria will be the first to win it, maybe in the next World Cup.

“When they are playing on the field, I take them as Nigerian. And again, I will apologize to Nigerians, and I take responsibility as the then President of the Federation, but I believe we have gone beyond that now.”

Pinnick added, “Let us enjoy the World Cup. Qatar has given us a wonderful spectacle to behold, and I believe we should enjoy it. I am a proud Nigerian and am happy to be here to represent the country with dignity at any time.”

Meanwhile, a section of Nigerian fans has frowned at Amaju Pinnick’s presence at the Qatar World Cup after he failed to lift the Super Eagles to the football festival.