By James Agberebi: Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick has claimed that most countries who qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup do not want to be drawn in the same group with the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Pinnick stated this during the launching ceremony of short code *1945# for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup in Lagos on Monday which will be used to reward Nigerian fans.
The draw for the 2018 World Cup will be held on Friday, December 1 in Russia.
The Super Eagles who finished top in a a very difficult Group B qualifying group that had Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia, are in Pot 4 for Friday’s draw.
“We can play any country,” Pinnick said. “In fact when the draw for the last 20 teams in Africa came, I said any country that qualifies for the World Cup is as good as lifting the World Cup. Nobody would have believed that Nigeria would qualify out of that group.
“The same way we are panicking, so also other countries are panicking to meet Nigeria. Even though we are in the last pot, nobody wants Nigeria to be in their group. I can tell you that, I talk to my colleagues globally and they call to say they don’t want Nigeria to be in their group. Now Nigeria is rated in their minds as one of the first four teams in the world because beating Argentina is no mean feat.
“So every country is scared. And that’s why I said people should not look at the FIFA ranking, it’s just numbers and numbers don’t lift trophies, it’s your determination, resilience and prayers that do.”
After the 4-2 victory against Argentina in an international friendly, Pinnick said the reason why the Super Eagles will be playing more A-list friendlies is to prepare them adequately for the World Cup.
“I always want us to play against quality teams in friendlies, let’s see them, let’s expose them the way they too can expose us as well,” he added.
“The principal reason for playing against these big countries is that you will be able to note your inadequacies immediately and know how to correct them.”
And on plans being put in place by the NFF for the Super Eagles to do very well at the 2018 World Cup, Pinnick said: “We are just being prayerful and being dedicated and working according to our plans. On the 12th of December, we will be addressing a world press conference in Abuja. And in that world press conference, we are going to unveil A to Z of our plans till the kick-off of our first game. We will unveil the day the players will be paid, their 25 per cent World Cup money, there is going to be count down to Russia 2018 and we have worked out plans in that regard.
“We want to ensure total organisation, we want to ensure smoothness towards the World Cup because if you have quality preparation, also expect a quality result. We have chosen three camp venues. We will look at the temperature of the country, comfort and proximity to Russia. We don’t want to compromise standard, and we believe if we give them quality preparation, they will give us quality result.”