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Governor Okowa, Chukwu want end to celebration, advocate early preparation

By Hendrix Oliomogbe (Asaba), Alemma Ozioruwa Aliu (Benin), Alex Monye
09 October 2017   |   2:47 am
Okowa urged the sports authorities not to be carried away by the euphoria of the qualification but start early preparation to ensure the Super Eagles perform well at the global competition beyond past achievements. 

Christian Chukwu

Obaseki, Obiano, Aregbesola congratulate Eagles

Impressed with the qualification of the Super Eagles for next year’s World Cup in Russia, Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa and Nigeria’s former captain, Christian Chukwu, have urged the team to turn their attention to preparation for the Coupe du Mundo, saying the ticket would be meaningless if the aim was only to make up the numbers at the global fiesta.

Okowa urged the sports authorities not to be carried away by the euphoria of the qualification but start early preparation to ensure the Super Eagles perform well at the global competition beyond past achievements. 

Okowa, who joined millions of Nigerian football supporters in celebrating and congratulating the national team, also congratulated the Ministry of Sports, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), the technical crew, management and backroom staff of the Eagles for beating the Chipolopolo of Zambia by a lone goal to secure Nigeria’s sixth appearance at the event.   

In a statement in Asaba by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, the governor said: “It was a delight watching the Super Eagles defeat the Zambian side in front of titillated home fans at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo to put the Eagles on an incontestable 13 points at the top of Group B. 

“Sports in Nigeria, particularly football, remain one of the greatest accoupler of people across political affinities, religion, gender, tribe and other schisms.” 

He advised that in this era of agitations, Nigerians should take advantage of sports competitions to further promote national love, togetherness and patriotism.

Former Super Eagles’ coach, Christian Chukwu, advised Eagles to suspend celebrations and focus on preparing well to surpass the round of 16 stage they have attained in the previous editions of the competition.

The former Harambee Stars of Kenya coach said it would not augur well for the players to have a fine outing in the World Cup qualifiers and get booted out in the early stage of the championship.

He posited that allowing more players to fight for shirts through first grade warm up games would help the players to raise the standard of their game.
Chukwu advised that the last World Cup qualifier against Algeria should not be approached with laxity, adding that the game would be another opportunity for Coach Gernot Rohr to test one or two players and also blend the team for the tasks ahead.

“The players and technical crew should set a target of qualifying for the quarterfinal or semifinal of the World Cup. Preparing the team for the World Cup should start now. The NFF and the Eagles coaches should avoid last minute preparations, which had affected the team negatively in the past. Rohr and his assistants should also work on the players to also give their best in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers… all hands must be on deck to ensure the team also get the Nations Cup ticket,’’ he said.

Also commending the team are Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki, his Anambra and Osun states’ counterparts Willie Obaino and Rauf Aregbesola respectively.
Obaseki, who praised the exceptional class with which the Eagles outsmarted their opponents, urged them not to rest on their oars even as they prepare for the World Cup in Russia.
A statement by the Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, reads: “The Super Eagles team have shown the true Nigerian spirit. As a people with an uncommon zeal to succeed without minding the daunting challenges, the Nigerian team showed the world that when we are committed to a task, we would do all to succeed.
“Nothing can quantify the feeling of being the first African team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It is only right to urge them to go for glory and come back with the trophy. We have shown the world that we are still a country to reckon with when it comes to football.”

To Obiano, the qualification for Russia 2018 is historic. In a statement issued by Mr. James Eze, his Senior Special Assistant on Media, the governor also praised the team for playing all their qualifying games with utmost dedication and commitment.

“This team has proved their worth by achieving the status of the first African team to qualify for the World Cup. It is now up to all of us to support them and cheer them to higher achievements in the World Cup,” the governor said.

Aregbesola, an ardent Arsenal fan, urged the NFF to continue to fully support the team. He said: “I congratulate the Super Eagles on the feat… who would have thought that in a group with football powerhouses like Cameroun, Zambia and Algeria, we would have qualified with a game to spare. “I am proud of what this team has been able to achieve so far and I believe they can make us proud in Russia.”