Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Honourable Sports Minister has challenged the Golden Eaglets to win the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the UAE and justify the huge expectations of Nigerians.
The Minister who doubles as the Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) met the Golden Eaglets by coincidence at the local wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos on Monday when they flew in from Calabar on their way to a training camp in Dubai, told the players and officials that Nigerians and indeed the Federal Government of Nigeria would be backing them all the way.
“There is no doubt that this is a divine meeting because we did not arranged to meet here and I want to use this opportunity to thank the coaches for the job well done so far because I have been following all your activities,”said Abdullahi, who actually saw the foundation of the team when he attended the screening of the players in 2012.
“I want to remind you of the call by President Goodluck Jonathan to go and win the World Cup when you came back from the CAN U-17 Championship in Morocco with the Silver medal and we believe you can do it.”
He told the contingent to be good ambassadors of the country at the World Cup, enjoining them to make discipline their watchword: “As young athletes you need discipline to excel and I want you to be disciplined in your conduct at the World Cup.”
Responding on behalf of the team, Head Coach Manu Garba (MFR), thanked the Honourable Minister for his unwavering support to the Golden Eaglets through the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), pledging that the players would as usual, do everything humanly possible to bring honour to the country.
A team of 25 players and 10 officials departed the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Monday aboard Emirates Airline for Dubai on a two-week training camp ahead of the October 17 kick off of the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The Golden Eaglets are drawn against the defending champions, Mexico, Iraq and Sweden and are ready to follow on the legend of their illustrious predecessors that won the trophy in 1985, 1993 and 2007.