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Lawal thanks Nigerians for recognition as sports icon

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Former international, Garba Lawal, has thanked Nigerians for including him among the 60 sports icons the country recently celebrated in commemoration of its 60th Independence anniversary. The ceremony was held on Friday at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja.

Lawal is among the 60 sports icons whose pictures will be on display for 60 days. Other great footballers celebrated by the Federal Government are Emmanuel Okala, Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami, the late Mudashiru Lawal, Daniel Amokachi, Austin Okocha, Nduka Ugbade, Victor Igbinoba, and Kanu Nwankwo.

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They were decorated for their roles in the development of the Super Eagles.

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Lawal described the acknowledgment as an honour, but he wondered what he did to be so voted for by his admirers.

“First, I want to thank Nigeria for the opportunity given to me to serve this great country and to be picked among the 60 sports icons in the country. I don’t know how my name came up, but I want to believe that those who voted for me have their reasons and I want to express my appreciation to them.’’

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“I also want to thank the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, for this honour. I believe this noble idea of the minister will spur other young sportsmen and women to go the extra mile in the service of the country,” he said.

The former Roda JC of Holland star, who also spoke on Nigeria’s recent international friendly games against Algeria and Tunisia, described the tune-up matches as necessary for the assessment of more players ahead of the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers, which begins next month.

“As a coach, I don’t think I am in a position to criticise the Eagles’ coach in any way. All the same, I think when a coach assembles a set of players for any national assignment, they are expected to give their best. I will not blame the coach if they fail to perform.

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“Coaches want to invite players that will fit into their plans based on their own methodology. And I want to believe that the two friendly matches were good competition for the team. I think the Eagles team now has at least three players for every position.”

On the exclusion of home-based players in the group, Lawal said, “I have always believed that we have good players in our local league. After all, most of us that are now former internationals started from the domestic leagues before we were given the opportunity. That is the only hope we can give these players, by given them consideration into the Eagles team for the growth of our league.”

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