Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, Chief Obinna Ogba, and Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick have visited the Home Eagles at their base in Morocco and charged the team to beat Angola in Sunday’s 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarter-final clash in Tangier.
Nigeria finished top of Group C and face Group D runners-up Angola at the Stade Ibn Batouta in the third quarter-final on Sunday evening.
According to an NFF press release, Dalung said: “I want to appreciate you for all that you have done so far. Nigerians are very happy with you and now we have hope that the future of our football is bright.
“Our President is a sports-loving President and he is following everything that is going on here. I can tell you honestly that he is waiting eagerly to receive you after this tournament must have ended and you have won the trophy. Always remember that you are carrying the hopes and aspirations of 180 million passionate people. So be ready to fight for your country on the pitch and make your people happy.
“Don’t be distracted. Everything you need has been provided as the NFF president has said, so it is now left to you to show that desire and hunger to succeed.”
In his opening remarks, Pinnick said: “I want you guys to stand up and give the Honourable Minister a round of applause. We had an event in Casablanca earlier today and when we finished, I asked if he would want to speak to the team before returning to Nigeria (on Friday). Without hesitation he said yes.
So we had to travel by road for over four hours to see you. That shows the heart of a leader and a father.
“He has also ensured that we have your monies (for bonuses, allowances) for this competition from first game to the Final game on February 4, so the ball is now in your court. As a federation, the NFF is very proud of you and what you have done so far. We believe in you. We know you can make history and win this tournament for Nigeria for the first time. Please stay focused, determined and disciplined. Give your 100% and even more to make sure this trophy goes to Nigeria.”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports and a former NFF board Mmmber, Ogba, added: “You guys have no reason to be intimidated by any one or any team here. We are giants of Africa and we must show it on the pitch any time we play. I must say that you guys are lucky because of the kind of NFF board currently in place. I have been a board member before so I know what I am saying.
“Now, there is foresight and passion. This NFF leadership takes your welfare as their top priority and that is why we always ensure swift appropriation at the Senate, and the National Assembly generally. Now we can play this game both on the pitch and in the boardroom. Listen to your coaches, be disciplined, be committed and never be afraid or intimidated.”
Home Eagles captain and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa said: “It is a privilege to be here to represent Nigeria. From our first day in camp we spoke to ourselves and decided on the slogan, ‘Operation Do Nigeria Proud.’
“We are very focused and determined and our approach is to take it one at a time. We want to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for his interest in our success. We will continue to work hard to ensure that we present this CHAN trophy to him in Nigeria. We also want to say a big thank you to the Sports Minister, our lawmakers and the NFF president for all that they have done and are still doing for us.”