President Goodluck Jonathan with the Eagles in Abuja
By Muhammad Bello, with agency reports
Members of the senior national soccer team, the Super Eagles have been charged to improve on their performance during the 2013 African Cup of Nations which kicks off in South Africa this weekend.
President Goodluck Jonathan handed down the charge Wednesday at the Federal Executive Council (FEC), urging the team to ensure that it makes the country proud.
Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, disclosed at the end of the Council's meeting that the President who led members of the FEC in a prayer session for the Super Eagles urged the team to perform in a manner that reflects Nigeria's status as Africa's giant.
He said the Eagles are well prepared to take on their opponent in the opening match and Nigerians should expect the best from the team.
The minister explained that President Jonathan has called on the players to bring laurels to the country.
Abdullahi pointed out that Nigeria's absence at the medal tables in major outings recently was most unacceptable.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Ambassador Sonni Yusuf, has expressed satisfaction with the facilities at the disposal of the Super Eagles for the AFCON.
Yusuf told NAN in Johannesburg that the team got the best hotel allocated to it.
“I must say that the Super Eagles, of the four teams in the group, have the best facilities; the hotel has two standard training pitches located within its precincts.
“We also intend to meet with the LOC on the issue of accreditation for key government officials to have access to the team and to discuss other logistics required for the team.
“The hotel that the team will be staying in was used for the 2010 World Cup and is still in very good shape; it is located in a secluded area of the town, with heavy security,’’ Yusuf said.
He added that the mission had notified the Nigerian community in South Africa to come out en masse to support the Super Eagles.
“In the area of support for our team, there will be no problem at all. Nigeria has one of the largest immigrant populations in South Africa.
“The proximity of Mbombela to Mozambique, where we also have a large Nigerian community is another advantage for us.
“So starting from Thursday (today) when the team will arrive in South Africa, the huge support of the Nigerian community in South Africa will be felt,’’ Yusuf said.
Meanwhile, the High Commissioner has told members of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club in Mbombela, who accompanied him on the inspection of facilities to be good ambassadors of the country.
“I want to express the pleasure of the mission at the enthusiasm your group has been displaying towards our national team.
“But I must say that this is not a do or die situation; football and sports as a whole is to foster good relationships between people, in this case the purpose is to promote unity among African nations.
“So I must appeal to you all to be good ambassadors of Nigeria; there must not be any act of violence in and outside the stadium during any of our matches,’’ Yusuf added.
He appealed to the Supporters’ Club members and other fans to stay away from the team’s hotel, so as not to distract them.
The spokesman of the supporters club, Adeboboye Adekunle, said that their support for the Super Eagles was a display of their loyalty to the country.
“We want to assure your Excellency on behalf of over 300 members of the club in Mbombela that we will be of good behaviour and give our national team full support during the tournament,’’ Adekunle said.
Yusuf was accompanied on the visit by the Consul-General, Okey Emuchay and Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Director of Elite Athletes at the National Sports Commission.
He promised to provide Nigerian flags to fans during the Super Eagles’ matches.
The Super Eagles are staying at the Ingwenyama Conference and Sports Resort in Mbombela.