By Albert Akota
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung, provided the big impetus that steered the Super Eagles to a 1-0 victory over Libya on Friday at the 5th African Nations Championship, which has now taken the team close to a place in the quarter –finals.
NFF 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko said at the weekend that Dalung actually swung the game Nigeria’s way hours before kick –off, when he approved that the players be paid the full bonus for the drawn opening match against Rwanda if they earned the maximum points against 2014 champions Libya.
“The Honourable Minister should get the credit for that victory because his approval for the team to be paid full bonus for the Rwanda game if they defeated Libya meant the players went all out, knowing they would be getting two full bonuses with a win.
“The approval was simply to restore the 50% the team lost for drawing against Rwanda,” Dikko explained.
On Tuesday, the Eagles have opportunity of going for a third full bonus when they take on pointless debutants Equatorial Guinea at the Stade Adrar in Agadir, at the same time Libya will be playing Rwanda in what promises to be an explosive tie in Tangier. Kick –off is 7pm Morocco time (8pm in Nigeria).
Four –pointer Nigeria will be guaranteed a place in the last eight if they avoid defeat against Equatorial Guinea. Rwanda, also with four points and same one goal advantage as Nigeria, will hope to also avoid defeat against three –pointer Libya to reach the last eight.
If the Eagles finish top of the table, they would return to Tangier to tackle the second –placed team in Group D on Sunday, 28th January with the possibility of a semi final in Marrakech three days later.
Should they finish second in the pool, they would be up against the top –placed team in Group D in Agadir also on Sunday, 28th January with the possibility of a semi final at Casablanca’s Stade Mohamed V three days later.
The final match of the championship is scheduled for the Stade Mohamed V on Sunday, 4th February.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation and WAPIC Insurance PLC has signed an agreement that conferred on the insurance giant the title of ‘Official Insurance Services Provider and Co-Sponsor of the NFF.’
NFF President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick expressed his delight and that of the Federation with the contract, “which now provides excellent safety and security for our active National Team players and officials while on duty and offers a well –paved route for them to have a better future through proper pension fund.
“WAPIC, like the present NFF, is an organization driven by positive vision. WAPIC aims to emerge as a Top 2 full service West African insurance company while the NFF, through its Goal Project, wants to build mini-secretariats and football fields in all States and the FCT and build a sustainable football culture in the country. It is a union of two companies with positive energy.”
Managing Director of WAPIC Insurance PLC, Mrs Yinka Adekoya, affirmed that the company was excited to team up with Nigerian Football, given the huge role that football plays in nation –building and the excitement that it generates among the youth and adults alike.
“The NFF is an organization that is making Nigeria proud through the excellent results of the National Teams and WAPIC is a top financial institution seeking to be the most enjoyable company to do business with and to become a top 20 financial services institution in Nigeria by 2019.”
NFF’s 2nd Vice President/Chairman of Marketing, Sponsorship and TV Rights Committee, Shehu Dikko, explained that the contract is for five years in the initial with an option of renewal, and will cost the insurance outfit close to N100 million every year.