Catalonian Friendly: Cryuff, Nkono, Others Salute Eagles

04 Jan 2013

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Super Eagles players and some officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), pose with the Catalan Cup

By Femi Solaja, with agency reports

Super Eagles surprise 1-1 draw with Catalonia selected side in Barcelona on Wednesday has continued to draw reactions, with many praising Nigeria’s resilience against the star-studded cast of the host team.

Dutch legend, Johan Cryuff, who has adopted Catalonia as his home country was full of praises for the Super Eagles display against his country at the home ground of La Liga side, Espanyol.

Also, former Indomitable Lions of Cameroun goalkeeper and skipper, Thomas Nkono, insisted that the rebirth of African football has started with what he saw the Eagles played against the Catalonia selected side.

According to the Media Officer of the Super Eagles, Ben Alaiya, Cryuff, who was handling the Catalonian Selected side for the last time, was reported to have warned his players that the Nigerian side was a very strong, physical and tactical side and he was not disappointed with what he saw against his side.

“It was a good game but the Nigerians are preparing for a major tournament and it showed that they are preparing well and will go very far in the tournament,” Alaiya quoted the former Dutch legend to have said.

Nkono on his part came to the Eagles dressing room to personally congratulate Keshi for raising such a team from Africa and wished the team well at the African Cup of Nations in South Africa.

The towering former Espanyol FC first choice goalkeeper, hugged, back-slapped and said he was fascinated by the display of the Africans in the exhibition game in the Catalan City.

On his part NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, who watched the game live in the company of Technical Committee Chairman of the Federation, Chris Green, said that winning a trophy in far away Barcelona in only the second day of the year was a sign of good things to come in 2013 to Nigeria.

Maigari is scheduled to arrive Abuja with the trophy Friday morning.

He urged the players not to relent in their quest for the AFCON title in South Africa, arguing that President Goodluck Jonathan has assured that all necessary support will be provided for an excellent outing for the team.

“The President even watched the game against Catalonia selected and he was very proud of you. We also on our part in the federation will ensure that adequate provision is made for you to conquer in South Africa,” stressed the NFF chief.

Head Coach Stephen Keshi said he was happy at the display of the national team but was not totally done yet with building a strong team. “In the next two weeks we should have a stronger and more reliable team to defend our colours come SA 2013” he said.

Meanwhile, scorer of Nigeria’s equalising goal, Bright Dike, has said that the 1-1 draw with the star-studded Catalonia will lift the Super Eagles leading to the AFCON.
The Portland Timbers of USA star scored the equaliser for Nigeria in the 55th minute to ensure that the Super Eagles took something out of this friendly after they slumped 5-0 to the same team five years ago.
"This game should build confidence and belief in the team," a thrilled Dike told

"It was a tough match, they possess the ball very well. We made some mistakes but that is what all of these games are to correct those mistakes."

Dike said he will dedicate his first goal for Nigeria to Almighty God.

"I dedicate the goal to God who made it possible for me to score after I got a great pass from Onazi. The goal gave me an amazing feeling,” said the forward, who made his Eagles debut in November against Venezuela.

“I feel great to score the all-important goal but it is not only me that scored the goal it was a collective effort and I thank my teammates."

Tags: Sports, Nigeria, Featured, Catalonian Friendly, Cryuff, Nkono, EAGLES

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