Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
AFCON 2019 qualifier, the Super Eagles of Nigeria became $50,000 richer as the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, on Tuesday evening redeemed his pledge of $25,000 per goal scored by the team in their African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match against the South African football team, Bafana Bafana.
Although, the Super Eagles encounter with their South Africa opponents in Johannesburg ended one goal apiece, Okowa decided to reward the Nigerian players with the sum of $50,000 apparently to compensate the Super Eagles for two goals they scored by controversially denied by the centre referee of the match.
According to the Delta State governor, he was convinced that the Super Eagles performed well enough to claim the maximum points from the weekend match in Johannesburg, in spite of the 1-1 score-line at the final whistle signalling the end of clash.
The Nigerian football ambassadors had trained at the Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba, the Delta State capital, before jetting out to Johannesburg last weekend through the Asaba International Airport.
After the match, which saw Nigeria booking a place during the AFCON Championship to be hosted 2019 by Cameroon, the Nigerian national football team also returned to the country through the Asaba International Airport.
At a state banquet held in honour of the Super Eagles at Government House, Asaba, on Tuesday night, the governor disclosed that though the match ended 1-1, what he saw was the Super Eagles scoring more than one goal.
Okowa said, “As a state government, we did make a promise to give $25,000 per goal in the AFCON qualifying match in South Africa (and) in my mind, I know we scored two goals, not one goal; because the second goal was wrongly disallowed.
“So, we will fulfil our promise with what we saw, not with what was announced by the referee,he remarked.
Moreover, the governor described the camping of the Super Eagles in Asaba as a blessing in several ways.
Shortly before their departure to South Africa through Asaba airport, Okowa motivativated the team with a pomise to reward them with the sum of $25, 000 for every goal scored against Bafana Bafana.
“We are very happy that you left for South Africa from Asaba because you enabled us to witness the first international flight from the Asaba International Airport”, Okowa noted.
“We are truly excited this evening that we are hosting our dear Super Eagles as a state government and the Ugandan team (The Cranes) with who they earlier played a barren draw with the Super Eagles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, we truly enjoyed ourselves because the two teams played good football.
“It was good to host the Super Eagles, they have been with us for some days now, and I believe that the people, Deltans and Nigerians in general, are excited. Though they drew the match with the Cranes of Uganda, both teams played good game and it was gladdenjng to know that both team have also qualified for the African Cup of Nations,” he said, disclosing that the coming of the Super Eagles to Asaba greatly gave a boost to socio-economic life of Deltans.
Okowa assured that his administration will continue to invest in the development of sports and sporting activities, noting that Principal’s Cup and the Headmaster’s Cup football championship were designed to encourage the development of football in secondary and primary schools in the state.
He congratulated the Super Eagles for qualifying for AFCON, assuring that his administration would continue to support the Pinnick Amaju led Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to succeed.
Stand-in Captain of the Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa on behalf of members of the team, thanked Governor Okowa and the people of Delta State for their support.
“We will love to come back here again and on behalf of my team mates, we say thank you,” Musa said.
The Cranes of Uganda that earlier held the Super Eagles to a goalless draw at the Stephen Keshi Stadium attended the dinner.