By: Gracious Akujobi
Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State has charged the Golden Eaglets to go andconquer the rest of the world at the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup billed for the United Arab Emirates between October 17 and November 8.
Speaking through the state’s Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Patrk Ugbe in a valedictory speech at the practice pitch of U.J Esuene Stadium on Saturday, the Governor said the Golden Eaglets have nothing to be afraid of against other contenders.
“I bring special greetings to you from Governor Imoke and we are all happy that you have had a pleasant stay with us here” Ugbe said after watching the team’s final training session in Calabar ahead of their departure to their pre-World Cup camp in Dubai.
“The message from His Excellency is that you should go and bring the trophy as he would be happy to receive you afterwards.” Ugbe further reminded the players about previous exploits of Nigeria at the Under-17 World Cup having emerged champions thrice in 1985, 1993 and 2007 as well as being silver medalist in 1987, 2001 and 2009.
“The first edition of this tournament was won by Nigeria and you are lucky to have in the technical crew, Nduka Ugbade who was the captain of that historic team in 1985, so gone and conquer the world in Dubai,” he noted. “ You don’t have to be scared of any team rather
they should be scared of Nigeria given our strong pedigree at this level and as you go to the World Cup as a world leader in this category. “
He further admonished the players to follow the instructions of their coaches even as he prayed that God bless all the efforts of the team with resounding success.
He added: “Always remember all that you have been taught by the coaches and don’t forget that matches are not won or lost until the end of the final whistle by referee. We wish you Good luck and do know that we would be supporting you all the way as some of us would be at the World Cup by the grace of god to support you.”
Meanwhile, the team’s Head Coach, Manu Garba has hailed the impact of the people and Government of Cross River state towards the team’s successful preparation ahead of the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the UAE.
The Canaan City as Calabar is fondly referred to, has been the adopted home of the National Under-17 team over the last one year and they remarkably won all both their friendly and international matches including three key CAN Championship qualifiers against Niger, Guinea
and Mali on their way to a silver medal win in Morocco last April.
Responding to the clarion call of Governor Liyel Imoke, the coach said “We are not unmindful of the fact that Nigeria had failed to qualify for the last two African Under-17 Championships and there is no way we can forget all the assistance we got form His Excellency and the people of Cross River State in general.
“We have no regret about our coming to Calabar because we achieved our objectives of first and foremost qualifying Nigeria for both the African and FIFA Under-17 Championship and without any doubt, Cross River State gave us all the support to excel,” he further noted.