Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke
Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke has described the 'New
Nigeria Golden Eaglets’ fine start of their campaign for a ticket for the 2013 African Under-17 Youth Championship in Morocco in one word: 'Fantastic!'
Governor Imoke was onboard Monday’s midday Arik flight that took the national Under-17 team from Abuja to Calabar after their 4-1 victory over Niger in Niamey at the weekend.
On landing at the Margret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar, the amiable Governor had a brief conversation with the team.
“I have been told about your performance against Niger and that was fantastic,” he said in his usual warm candour. “I’m very proud of you guys and I trust you won’t relent on your efforts.”
The team’s Number one citizen, Manu Garba (MFR) quickly told the Governor and his entourage that the team would not have achieved anything without the hospitality extended to the officials and players.
“Once again, we thank you sir,” Garba said. “All what we have achieved so far was because you gave us a conducive environment to prepare the team. We are grateful sir.”
Meanwhile, Garba has down played the team’s heart-warming first leg 4-1 win over Niger saying football is not mathematics hence all hands are on deck for the second leg match on September 22 in Calabar.
“We are not celebrating anything yet because we have not won anything actually,” he explained. “We have not qualified for the second stage of the competition until after the second leg game, after then we can begin to talk about our next opponent. Our focus now is the second leg game.”
Meanwhile, players and officials of the national Under-17 team are in deep mourning with Adeyinka Adewale, who was in goal when Nigeria defeated Niger 4-1 at the weekend, following the demise of his mother.
Madam Iyabo Sarah Adewale, who was in her late forties passed away at her home in Ilorin, Kwara State last Wednesday after a brief illness.
But the heartbreaking news was kept from the goalkeeper until he was informed by Head coach, Manu Garba late Monday night.
The late Madam Adeyinka has since been buried at her husband’s ancestral home in Modakeke in Osun State. Adeyinka remains in camp with the rest of the team as prayers were offered on his behalf during Tuesday’s training sessions.
Adeyinka described the death of his mum as very painful and sad; revealing that he felt something was amiss with him on the eve of the Niger versus Nigeria match but was misconstrued by teammates as part of the peculiar pre-match’s tension, adding that the death of his mum has left a big vacuum in his young life.
“I knew something was wrong last Friday but I couldnt really say what it was until I was told last night that my loveable mum she died last Wednesday," a crest-fallen Adeyinka said matter-of-factly. “My mum was my pillar.
“She was a great mum who did so much for us and her memories would be with me forever. I’m pained that she was unable to see me play for Nigeria despite all what she did in my life but I can’t forget her,” he added.