AFCON 2021 QUALIFIERS
*Fulfills three-bedroom apartment pledge to Atlanta ‘96 Gold Medalist, Pascal
As the Super Eagles depart Lagos this morning for Cotonou in Benin Republic, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has charged the three-time continental champions to beat the Beninoise as well as the Crocodiles of Lesotho in the crucial 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying matches.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who promised to support the team, tasked the technical crew and players to work tirelessly to defeat Benin national team on Saturday at Porto Novo and beat Lesotho during Nigeria’s final AFCON 2021 match scheduled to be played at the refurbished Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Tuesday.
Speaking during a dinner reception he organised for the players and their technical crew at the State House in Marina on Wednesday night, Governor Sanwo-Olu, said his administration was committed to improving sports activities in Lagos State.
The Governor who during the dinner surprised a member of the Atlanta 1996 Football Gold Medalist, Patrick Pascal by giving him a new three-bedroom apartment in the 360 units Prince Abiodun Ogunleye Housing Estate in Igbogbo, Ikorodu, expressed his excitement that the senior national team has returned to Lagos, their traditional home, to play competitive match for the first time in 20 years.
“When it was said that we are going to have the match (against Lesotho) in Lagos, we did not only jump at it, we saw it as an opportunity to rewrite our history again.”
Sanyo-Olu recalled that Lagos used to be home for everything around football and sports in this country. “Over 80 former national team footballers came out of Lagos. Henry Nwosu, Samson Siasia, Jonathan Akpoborie, Odion Ighalo and many others were discovered in Lagos.
“We are supporting sporting activities in different parts of Lagos so that we can get younger ones that will be coming behind and after you so that Nigeria can get back her glory; the glory of 1996 when we won the Atlanta Olympic Gold Medal in the football event. It was a glorious time for some of us.
“We have here, Patrick Pascal (Super Eagles team coordinator), who was part of the team that won the gold medal in Atlanta 96.
“Surprisingly, what we promised him and the other members of the squad as a nation has not been fulfilled, but Lagos will fulfill that today. Patrick will get a three-bedroom flat in Prince Abiodun Ogunleye Housing Estate, which I commissioned today (Wednesday).
“Sports is a unifier for all of us. Sports is a detribalised means of identification. Sports speaks no language, it speaks no tradition, it speaks no religion. It is something that usually heals our country. Even when things are down, when we have security issues and all sorts of negative things in the country, you can use sports and football to heal that wound for us. And it is on that note that I want to charge you, encourage and appeal to you to do everything you can to win the matches.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that his administration would build a stadium in Igbogbo and Agboyi-Ketu parts of Lagos, added that his administration will support all the local teams in the State with necessary infrastructure they need to boost sporting activities.
Speaking earlier, Super Eagles Head Coach, Gernot Rohr, commended Governor Sanwo-Olu for his support for the team and for putting the necessary infrastructure in place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere for next Tuesdaymatch.
He assured the governor that his team will win the two matches.
Also speaking, captain of the Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa said the best they can do to reward the hospitality offered the team by Lagos is to defeat Benin Republic in Porto Novo on Saturday and also win the match against Lesotho in Lagos on Tuesday.
“You are a man of the people. On behalf of myself and my team mates, we thank you. You are a man that promises and fulfills them. The best we can give you is to win the game.
“I think Benin Republic have not lost since 2013 in their home. We will break that by the grace of God and come to Lagos and do our best to win the game against Lesotho,” he said.
Musa later presented Super Eagles jerseys to Governor Sanwo-Olu and First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.