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Eagles to get better support as more Nigerians arrive in Russia

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Nigeria’s players attend a training session at Essentuki Arena in southern Russia on June 20, 2018 during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, and some other top APC members left St. Petersburg yesterday for Nigeria to attend the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) national convention scheduled for Saturday.

The minister and the top politicians left for the airport about 4.30 a.m., which is 2.00 a.m. Nigerian time for the airport and was expected to leave for Nigeria by a Lufthansa Airline flight via Frankfurt.

A source close to the minister told The Guardian that Dalung would return to Russia on time for Nigeria’s last group match against Argentina next week.

The Guardian understands that while in Nigeria the minister would also work to secure part or all of the Super Eagles contingent’s budgeted funds from the treasury to ease the cash crunch currently dogging the Super Eagles.

‘‘The minister is a top leader in the APC set up and so he must be on ground to guide his supporters during the convention. He will also brief Mr. President on the situation in the Nigerian camp and seek for ways to secure money for the team.

Although he will miss Friday’s clash with Iceland, the minister will be here to cheer the Eagles to victory against Argentina next week,’’ the source, who pleaded anonymity, said.

Meanwhile, more Nigerians have been trooping into Russia to lend their voices to the Eagles’ campaign at the on-going FIFA World Cup.

On Tuesday, a contingent of about 120 Nigerians arrived at the Park Inn Hotel by Radisson in Pribaltiyskaya, where many Eagles’ supporters are based, while more than 50 others went into town to look for cheaper accommodation.

The Guardian learnt that a delegation sponsored by the Rivers State government, as well as those coming to Russia through different commercial promos, would be in the country before Friday’s game against Iceland.

Also in the country are members of the Club Owners Association, some journalists and a group of Nigerians living in different parts of Eastern Europe.

One of the new arrivals, who came from Latvia to St. Petersburg, Osas Ighodalo, told The Guardian that the Super Eagles have a substantial number of supporters living in Russia and some countries of the former Soviet Union, who could not make the first match against Croatia.

‘‘We feel it is our duty to be here to cheer our team because we noticed that Nigeria lacked adequate support during the first match.

‘‘The president of the Nigerian community in St. Petersburg, Zubair Ozigis from Edo State, has done a good job in mobilising our people from across the country to support the Super Eagles.

‘‘We assure the team that they will not lack support on Friday, but we also want them to reciprocate the gesture by playing well against Iceland,’’ he said.


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