WORLD CUP 2018 QUALIFIER

*Thanks Pinnick for retaining Uyo as home for Eagles

Duro Ikhazuagbe
As Super Eagles, three-time African champions, welcome reigning African champions Cameroon to the ‘Nest of Champions’ in Uyo on September 1 in what could prove one of the deciding games of the World Cup 2018 Qualifying Series’ Group B, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has assured the team of maximum support against the Indomitable Lions.

Eagles presently perch at the top of the pool with six maximum points from two matches, after edging Zambia 2-1 in Ndola in October 2016 and defeating Algeria 3-1 in Uyo the following month. The Lions are second with only two points, after 1-1 draws with Algeria away and Zambia at home.

Speaking at the Government House in Uyo Tuesday when NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and his team paid him a courtesy visit, Governor Emmanuel assured Super Eagles of his maximum support despite the team’s slip against South Africa in an AFCON 2019 qualifier at the same Nest of Champions last month.

The governor said the importance of the Nigeria versus Cameroon World Cup tie made him to shelve an official international assignment to ensure that he is on ground to mobilise adequate support for Eagles as their Number One supporter in Akwa Ibom State.

He thanked the NFF for retaining Uyo as home of the Eagles, noting that such confidence will be justified with support and motivation for the Super Eagles to soar through the hurdle and hoist the nation’s flag at the World Cup in Russia next year.
Emmanuel pledged to support the team with the involvement of the chief psychologist at the University of Uyo to assist the team’s psychologists in preparing the players for victory.

His words: “Coming back to Akwa Ibom is always a motivation. Self-confidence is necessary when you are in the battlefront. After the last match, there were a lot of comments about moving the team to another city. I thank the NFF for believing in the players. That is what we need at this time to boost the morale of the Super Eagles. ”
Governor Udom Emmanuel used the opportunity to highlight his administration’s strides in sports development, infrastructure and talent hunt.

The governor said it was not an error that the match day coincides with a statewide prayer meeting in preparatory to the 30thAnniversary of Akwa Ibom State.
According to him, this spiritual exercise would yield positive result not just for Akwa Ibom State but the Super Eagles.

In his response, Pinnick thanked the governor for his significant role in football development in the country, through the support for the hosting of the national soccer team in Uyo.

The NFF chief re-affirmed that Uyo will remain the home of the Super Eagles because of the extra-ordinary support from the fans in the state.

“Whatever friendly that we need to play we will still come to Akwa Ibom. On October 9, Nigeria will be playing Zambia in another World Cup qualifier here again in Uyo.
Pinnick announced an invitation to the governor to lead the Nigerian delegation to Algeria for Eagles last qualifying game against the Fennecs.

He congratulated the state chief executive for the vigour he brought to Akwa United FC, stressing that this has resulted in the team’s emergence as Federation Cup champions two years ago and currently contending for the NPFL title in the elite division of the league.

“When you hear stories that we want to move, no, that’s not true. Uyo is home for the Super Eagles. I am the president of NFF, we are not moving an inch from this place,” he assured the governor.
Nigeria won the last encounter between the two countries at senior level, when the Eagles lashed the Lions 3-0 in a friendly in Brussels, Belgium on 11th October 2015.