…Nigeria ’ll survive group stage, Rohr assures
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the Super Eagles to demonstrate the gallant spirit which Nigerians are known for as they represent the country at the World Cup in Russia next month.
The President gave the charge yesterday at the Presidential Villa when he hosted the players ahead of their departure to London en route Russia.
Buhari reminded the players that they should be conscious that they are representing the 180 million Nigerians who are looking forward to them to win their matches in the tournament.
He said “You are going to represent us in Russia, you must bear in mind that you are not just going for a tournament. With each game you must remember that you are carrying the passions, emotions and feelings of over 180 million people. Play fair and clean but demonstrate the gallant spirit which Nigerians are known for. Nothing unites Nigerians more than football and nothing will gladden the people of Nigeria than for you to acquit yourself honourably by winning in Russia.
“You are the youngest team in the tournament which means you are likely the most inexperienced team, a fact that will not be lost on your opponents. But it is also something that you can use to your advantage.
“You have the full support and the blessings of all Nigerians who will look up to you for as long as the tournament last. I commend the Nigerian Football Federation for drawing up the right programme that is helping to refine the team to the powerful force which it’s meant to be.
“This is our time, we look up to you to make us proud. All Nigerians join me in saying to you, best of luck. Thank you and God be with you all,” the President said.
The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, who led the team on the visit, said the players would be conscious of the achievements of their predecessors with a determination to make history.
While acknowledging the President as the Super Eagles number one supporter, the minister thanked Buhari for timely release of funds for the team.
President, Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, thanked the President for his support for the team stating that his federation intended to create a culture of football sustainable development.
Pinnick said the country has moved forward in world football with Nigerians getting appointed into important positions.
Adding that “Today, we have so many Nigerians working in international global committees, the only female member of FIFA Ethics six-member committee which is FIFA’s own EFCC, the only African, is a Nigerian, Justice Ayotunde Philips. Today, we also have a Nigerian as the President of CAF Appeals Board, we have 10 Nigerians serving in 10 major committees because you made this possible for football to grow in Nigeria.”
He expressed gratitude to some Nigerian companies that have been supporting football development saying they contribute so much that players and coaches’ salaries are being paid regularly.
He added “This Super Eagle’s you are seeing today is the most disciplined, the most united in the history of football in the country. And I am happy to tell you that according to FIFA statistics, this team is the youngest going to the World Cup, which means this team will serve you for long, this team will serve you in the next five years. We have a team that will prosecute this World Cup and a team that will go for the next World Cup in 2022 and we have a team that will also go for the World Cup in 2026, because you have created that environment for us to thrive.
“I can assure that this team you are seeing today will make Nigeria very proud. It is a team that is much disciplined because discipline is the bedrock of any success.”
Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr, assured that the Super Eagles will survive the first round consisting of difficult teams from Argentina, Croatia and Iceland.
Team Captain, Mikel Obi, thanked the President for what he has been doing for Nigerian football and assured that his team would make Nigeria proud at the tournament.