President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday told Super Eagles that only victory at the World Cup in Russia will gladden Nigerians.
While urging them to embrace fair play, the President also urged the players to demonstrate, at the tournament, the gallant spirit which Nigerians are known for.
Buhari spoke during a reception for the team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President said, “As you are going to represent us in Russia, you must bear in mind that you are not just going for a tournament.
“With each game, you must remember that you are carrying the passions, emotions and feelings of over 180 million people.
“Play fair and clean, but demonstrate the gallant spirit which Nigerians are known for.
“Nothing unites Nigerians more than football and nothing will gladden the people of Nigeria than for your to acquit yourself honourably by winning in Russia.
“You are the youngest team in the tournament which means you are likely the most inexperienced team, a fact that will not be lost on your opponents. But it is also something that you can use to your advantage.
“You have the full support and the blessings of all Nigerians who will look up to you for as long as the tournament lasts.”
Buhari commended the NFF for drawing up the right programme that is helping to refine the team to the powerful force which it’s meant to be.
“This is our time. We look up to you to make us proud. All Nigerians join me in saying to you, best of luck. Thank you and God be with you all,” he said.
The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, said the team would be participating in the tournament with full consciousness of the glorious outing of their predecessors.
The minister admitted that the team have been drawn in a difficult group alongside Argentina, Croatia and Iceland.
He said, “It is difficult but by no means a mission impossible. The team and the coaching staff are in high spirits and are highly motivated to soar above their opponents at the World Cup.”
The NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, thanked the Federal Government and private concerns that have been supportive, saying the NFF will be 100 per cent self-sustaining in the next two years.
Pinnick said one of such companies has been committing N1.2bn annually to the funding of specific activities.
“For the first time in the history of this country, we have a team that nobody is talking about being owed a kobo because of the environment you created for us to thrive.
“This Super Eagles you are seeing today is the most disciplined, the most united in the history of football in the country.
“I am happy to tell you that according to FIFA statistics, this team is the youngest going to the World Cup, which means this team will serve you for long, this team will serve you in the next five years.”
Mikel Obi thanked the President on behalf of his colleagues and the officials.
Mikel said, “Like the NFF president said, this is the first time we will be going to a tournament like this without any issues on money, bonuses or anything like that.
“I think everything is sorted out now for us and all we have to do is to go out there as players and make this country proud.”
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