By: Gracious Akujobi
Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi and Nigeria Football Federation President, Aminu Maigari have congratulated the home-based Super Eagles for qualifying for the CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN) taking place in January 2014 in South Africa.
The team qualified for the championship for the first-time ever after 4—3 aggregate against the home-based Elephants of Cote’d’Ivoire. Although the Eagles lost the last match 0-2 against the Ivoirians, their superior 4-1 victory in the first leg, which took place in Kaduna earlier, was good enough to ensure qualification for the team.
The Minister commended the players and technical team for a job well done and assured the team of support as they proceed to the championship. “I congratulate the coaching crew and all the players for the hard work, discipline and brilliance which ensured that Nigeria has qualified for the CHAN for the first time. I am particularly pleased with the performance of the footballers who gave their best in and out of the field. This goes to show the depth and quality of the Glo Premier League.”
He also noted that the success of the team has demonstrated that the Eagles’ AFCON win was not a fluke and an indication that Nigeria is about to dominate African football.
In the same vein, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Aminu Maigari on Saturday praised players and officials of Super Eagles Team B for earning Nigeria’s first-ever qualification to play in the finals of the African Nations Championship.
The Eagles took a handsome 4-1 lead into the return leg in Abidjan but it was looking pitiably insufficient after the Ivorians raced to a 2-0 lead before the half-hour at Stade Robert Chambroux.
Kevin Koelly profited from a mistake by defender Azubuike Egwuekwe to shoot the Elephants ahead after only six minutes and doubled the advantage from a penalty kick 20 minutes later as Rabiu Ali tumbled an Ivorian striker in a goalmouth tussle.
A joyous Maigari said: “It was never going to be easy, but I was confident the Eagles would pull it through and make Nigeria proud. Of course, there were bound to be so many odds against them, being on away ground.
“To hold steadfast after that opening barrage on away ground is not easy; it takes a team that has strength of character and determination. I commend the players and their officials for a job
Nigeria joins Morocco, which eliminated Cup holders Tunisia, as well as Libya, Ghana, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Uganda and hosts South Africa in the 16-team finals due from January 11 next year.
Maigari added: “You see, all these positives are coming because we now have peace in the football family. Peace is a catalyst for progress. And as I said on Channels Television on Thursday night, the NFF will remain eternally grateful to the Secretary to Federal Government, Distinguished Anyim Pius Anyim and Minister of Sports for brokering the peace.”
Nigeria missed the first two editions of the nascent championship, exclusively for footballers plying their trade in their country’s domestic League. Ghana shut out the Eagles from the inaugural edition in Cote d’Ivoire in 2009 while the Eagles’ path to Sudan 2011 was barred by Niger Republic.