The Nigeria Football Federation has again praised the Federal Government and the Federation’s sponsors for the successful prosecution of Sunday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup African Qualifying Matchday 1 encounter against Zambia in Ndola.
Two first –half goals by England –based Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho steered the three –time African champions to a 2-1 win, three precious points and early leadership of the so-called ‘Group of Death’ in the World Cup qualifying race.
“We cannot thank the Federal Government, and the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports enough for their kind gestures. We also cannot appreciate our sponsors enough, particularly Supersport. Their good intentions made everything possible, and made the victory even sweeter.
“The Government and our partners and sponsors are our strength. There is not much that we can do without them,” NFF President Amaju Pinnick said on Thursday.
Aware of the challenges at hand, major partner Supersport paid the charter cost of the 148 –seater ARIK Air plane that conveyed the delegation to and from Ndola, in addition to paying ticket refunds for the overseas –based players.
“The gesture from Supersport was heartwarming, but we have always known the organization to be that responsive and of noble intentions. We thank our other sponsors as well, because at all times we must praise them for being there.
“The Honourable Minister was marvelous. He took our case to the Government and we got good support. We also cannot forget his leadership role on the trip. He put everyone at ease, played the good Leader of Delegation and delivered an inspiring message from President Muhammadu Buhari just before the team left for the Stadium in Ndola.”
Pinnick said the NFF and the team have put behind the victory in Zambia and already fully focused on next month’s Matchday 2 clash with the Fennecs of Algeria, who like Nigeria played at the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.
“We have three points and lead the group, but we do not have the World Cup ticket yet. We must keep our heads. Picking three points in the encounter with Algeria next month is paramount.”
“We also want to use this opportunity to appeal to other corporate organizations to join and assist the NFF with more financial support to help the Super Eagles land safely at Russia 2018, as Government alone cannot afford the huge cost of prosecuting these games, with so many other sectors in need of support.”
Rohr Gives Falconets Success Tips
Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, on Wednesday paid a surprise visit to the Falconets’ evening training session at the FIFA Goal Project Pitch in Abuja, where he handed out success tips to the team.
Rohr, accompanied by the NFF Head of Women Football, Ruth David, expressed optimism in the ability of Falconets to soar at the forthcoming 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
X-raying the country’s Group B opponents Japan, Canada and Spain, the former defender said that Nigeria boasts of a rich pedigree of at the global level which their opponents will find hard to surpass. He harped on the need for hard -work and humility as the keys to success and advised the girls to imbibe the spirit of team -work and respect for their opponents.
“Nigeria is a strong contender for the trophy. This is a team that fought till the end in the last tournament and I believe they can make history again. I want the team to understand the importance of team -work because it is the bed -rock for the success of any team. I want the girls to be humble at all times and respect their opponents.
“Be focused and business –like even while you are winning. Until the final whistle is blown, do not allow the euphoria of victory becloud your sense of purpose.
“This is the same advice I gave to the Super Eagles against Zambia. We focus on the game while it is on and after the game has ended, we can celebrate and greet our supporters.”
Nigeria will open her World Cup campaign against Japan on November 13, 2016 at the Bava Park in Port Moresby.