2018 FIFA WC qualifiers: Well-meaning Nigerians hail Super Eagles

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Ranging from former President Goodluck Jonathan to State governors, former players and other well-meaning Nigerians, the chorus is the same - they have inundated the National Football team, the Super Eagles, with their goodwill messages for qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

With Day 6 group matches still to be played in November, the Super Eagles defeated Zambia 1-0 on Saturday in Uyo to earn a berth to their sixth FIFA World Cup finals.

The Nigerian team grabbed 13 points altogether from the five matches played to win the group and advance to Russia 2018. All the other three teams in that group, Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria are all eliminated.

In its reaction to the victory, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) noted that sports in Nigeria, particularly football, remained one of the greatest unifier of people across political affiliations, religion, gender, tribe and other divides.

Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC National Publicity Secretary, stated this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.

Abdullahi joined millions of Nigerians in celebrating and congratulating the Super Eagles for their qualification to next year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

He also congratulated the Ministry of Sports, the Nigerian Football Federation, the technical crew, management, and backroom staff for securing Nigeria’s sixth appearance at the World Cup.

The APC spokesman said it was indeed a delight watching the Super Eagles defeat the Chipolopolo of Zambia in front of excited home fans in Uyo.

He noted that the victory puts Nigeria on an unassailable 13 points at the top of Group B and charged Nigerians to take advantage of the feat to further foster harmony among themselves.

Bolaji, a former sports minister, however, called on the sports authorities not to rest on their oars but to begin early preparation ahead of 2018 to ensure that the Super Eagles perform well at the global tournament.

Congratulating the Super Eagles on what he called "their well-deserved victory over Zambia", the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, hailed members of the national team for their dedication, patriotism and commitment in doing Nigeria proud.

Dogara made the commendation in a statement issued by Mr Turaki Hassan, his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, on Saturday in Abuja.

“The Super Eagles have once again made us all very proud. Being the first African team to qualify for the World Cup is no small feat, and the sense of patriotism and dedication to national duty must be commended by all,” he said.

He further pledged the commitment of the House of Representatives to prioritising sports development and ensuring better welfare for athletes.

“The team can be rest assured that they will always have the support of the House, as we’ve proven over time that the welfare of our athletes and development of sports in the country are of utmost importance to us. They have done a great job flying the Nigerian flag and we wish them success at the World Cup tournament in Russia next year.”

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Uzor, the Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, congratulated the Super Eagles for qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, describing the feat as sensational.

Umahi said: “The players demonstrated the undying-spirit of unity to decimate the Zambians and all their group opponents. I also congratulate Nigerians for making it once again to the highest international football fiesta as this brings an encouraging light in the country’s football and sports in general.”

Chief Bethel Anukwu, a transporter and soccer buff, also congratulated the team and urged the technical crew to maintain the current squad.

“The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) should organize quality friendly matches for the team and also ensure that the current squad executes the last qualifier against Algeria for enhanced blending,” he said.

Agnes Uwakwe, ex-Falconets, urged the technical crew to focus attention on the AFCON 2019 qualifiers where the team is currently not finding its bearing.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, in his official tweeter handle, applauded the fighting spirit of the Eagles, saying the team exemplified the “can do Nigerian spirit”.

"I am not surprised that you have qualified. Thank you @NGSuperEagles. You exemplify the can do Nigerian spirit,” he tweeted.

A cross section of football enthusiasts in separate reactions also applauded the team’s performance against the Chipolopolo.

Tunde Popoola, Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), congratulated the Eagles, adding that their victory demonstrated how great Nigeria is in diversity.

“The Super Eagles continue to make us all proud and demonstrate the greatness in our diversity. Congratulations to all Nigerians. We can truly achieve great things when we come together,” he said.

Godwin Bamigboye, Chairman, Nigeria Football Coaches Association, FCT Chapter, on his part heaped praises on Coach Gernot Rohr for the crucial role he played in qualifying the team for the World Cup.

“A lot of eyebrows were raised when the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) appointed Rohr as the head coach of the Super Eagles. Well, look who has taken the team to next year’s World Cup.

“The German coach has shown tactical acumen, leading the Super Eagles through the qualifying campaign without defeat so far and making fans believe in the team again.

“He again displayed excellent tactical and technical prowess through his vital substitutions in the match against Zambia.

“The introduction of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi injected pace into the Eagles’ attack as the Zambians found it hard to cope with Iwobi’s runs from the right wing. Mikel Agu also brought calm and stability to the Eagles’ midfield. That’s the difference! Football has gone scientific and it takes a sophisticated coach to find the winning formula when the chips are down,” he said.

Emmanuel Babayaro, an ex-international, praised the Eagles for the hard-fought victory, adding that the Zambians were a difficult nut to crack.

“They might have been defeated, but hats off to the Chipolopolo for coming this far with their young and fearless squad. Coach Nyirenda’s boys caused Nigeria a lot of trouble on Saturday, after beating Algeria home and away in the last round of matches. I wouldn’t be surprised if they qualify for the next World Cup,” he said.

Nduka Ugbade, also an ex-international and former assistant coach of the Flying Eagles, hailed the Super Eagles for picking up the World Cup ticket, adding that it wasn’t ‘a walk in the park’ for the Eagles.

According to Ugbade, “Zambia proved to all, including the watching NFF officials, that every game will not always be a walk in the park. It is not too early to start preparing hard for the World Cup as June is around the corner.

Mr. Sam Ikpea, Chairman of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club (NFSC), said the result is a proof that Nigeria is the giant of Africa.

He appealed to the players to maintain their team spirit and the coaching crew for a good team selection, which according to him, earned them the victory.
-0- PANA VAO/AR 8Oct2017

08 october 2017 14:44:35

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