By James Agberebi in Cotonou:
Photo by Ganiyu Yusuf:
Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick has blamed the home-based Super Eagles’ defeat to Benin Republic in the first leg of their 2018 CHAN qualifier in Cotonou to poor officiating, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Benin Republic were awarded an 89th minute penalty converted by their skipper Seibou Mama following a foul on a Beninoise player inside the box by Azeez Aremu.
Pinnick, who was present inside the Stade de l’amite with League Management Company Chairman Shehu Dikko, stated that he has taken up the issue with the appropriate body following the manner Algerian referee Mustapha Ghorbal handled the game.
He however expressed confidence that the home-based Eagles will still qualify for the 2018 CHAN despite the setback.
“I believe we will do our best on the second leg in Kano,” Pinnick said after the game. “But I can say emphatically that the officiating was very poor and the turf too affected our game but we will be able to overcome those two challenges in the next game and qualify. By God’s grace we are going to work hard to make sure we qualify.
“The officiating was very poor and I have notified the authorities concerning it.”
Pinnick however admitted that the Nigerian side did not deserve to win in Cotonou.
He added: “I wasn’t really impressed with our players. I don’t know what happened. They all very highly rated players, some of the best in our league but to me they didn’t live up to expectations.
“Some of those factors like the officiating must have affected them. But like I said, we will do everything possible in the second leg to make sure we qualify for CHAN.”