President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinninck, on Friday said the federation was making a huge progress towards raising $2.8m for the Super Eagles to encourage them do well at the2018 World Cup.
Pinnick said this in Ibadan during the unveiling of the Odua Football League logo and inauguration of the league at the Cocoa House office of the OFL. The NFF president said the body was making effort to ensure that there was no “human” error when Nigeria filed out in Russia for the World cup later in the year.
At the event were former FIFA Technical Instructor, Adegboye Onigbinde; former secretary of the NFF, Taiwo Ogunjobi; Acting Director General of the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, Seye Oyeleye; ex internationals, Femi Opabunmi and Gbenga Okunowo; the First Vice President of the NFF, Seyi Akinwunmi; and sports commissioners from the six South-West states.
The league, which will begin soon, will have 12 teams at the beginning with no relegation in the first and second year. The target is to have players that have not played in any of the Nigerian leagues, with 20 teams targeted by the end of the third season.
Pinnick said, “I have been meeting people and having series of meetings with them because we are trying to raise $2.8m for the Super Eagles. We want to give them their money by the end of April so that the pressure will be on the team not on NFF. We want to make sure that we go to the World Cup without any human error on the part of the NFF.
“Our coaches are in a camp already. We have our players playing regularly in their clubs, so we are getting fully ready for the World Cup. We try as much as possible to talk to the coaches in their clubs that they are Nigerian players who must not play a second fiddle because they are going to the world Cup.
“People are now talking about Oghenekaro Etebor’s exploits in Las Palmas in La Liga. I called him and told him to leave his former club where he was not a regular. Today, he is playing against Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and so on. Those are the players he will play against at the World Cup.”
While commending the Western Nigeria Football Forum for the regional league initiative, Pinnick said the project would be replicated in other zones, stressing that it would be promoted as a policy document of the NFF to develop football in every part of the country.
“The NFF will nurture this and make it a policy for other zones to emulate. It is a healthy competition that should be developed and not a rivalry among the zones,” he said.
Akinwunmi, who headed the team that initiated the idea of the league, said the movement began in 2015 and that the aim was to empower the youths, using their skills and physical abilities. He said under the initiative, there was a programme designed for coaches that would be coordinated by Onigbinde. According to him, the league is a youth format within the six South-West states that will be divided into two parts for proximity sake, adding that Odua Football League Television will be established to amplify the idea.