Congratulations galore as Super Eagles book flight to Russia

Nigeria's Alex Iwobi (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning solitary goal during the Fifa World Cup 2018 qualifying soccer match against Zambia in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on October 7, 2017. PHOTO | AFP 

Nigerian leaders, including President Muhammadu Buhari, have congratulated the national soccer team for booking their sixth World Cup appearance

The Super Eagles secured the Russia 2018 berth after beating the Chipolopolo of Zambia 1-0 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on Saturday.

Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi scored the decisive that saw Nigeria became the first African nation to book a spot at the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

President Buhari described the hard-earned victory as “very sweet, soothing and a 57th Independence Anniversary gift to the nation”.

He applauded the team for making Nigeria the first African country to qualify for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, with a match left to play.

To excel

President Buhari called on all Nigerians to apply the values of perseverance, resilience, discipline, hard work and team-spirit, which propelled the footballers to excel since the beginning of the qualifying matches, to all sectors of national life.

The president promised that the government would continue to support the Super Eagles so that the nation can maximise the unifying potentials of sports in general and football in particular.

He urged the entire team and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) officials to remain steadfast and focused when they begin preparations for the global football fiesta.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan also praised the team for qualifying for the Russia World Cup.

In a message via his official Twitter handle, Jonathan applauded the fighting spirit of the Super Eagles, saying the team exemplified the “can do Nigerian spirit”.

“I am not surprised that you have qualified. Thank you @NGSuperEagles. You exemplify the can do Nigerian spirit,” he tweeted.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said the victory was well-deserved.

Dogara expressed the sentiments in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, on Sunday in Abuja.

The Speaker also hailed members of the national team for their dedication, patriotism, and commitment for doing Nigeria proud.

“The Super Eagles have once again made us all very proud. Being the first African team to qualify for the World Cup is no small feat, and the sense of patriotism and dedication to national duty must be commended by all,” he said.

He further pledged the commitment of the House of Representatives to prioritising sports development and ensuring better welfare for athletes.

The Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Ebonyi Governor, David Umahi, also congratulated the Super Eagles.

“The players demonstrated the undying-spirit of unity to decimate the Zambians and all their group opponents, to qualify for the World Cup.

“I also congratulate Nigerians for making it once again to the highest international football fiesta as this brings an encouraging light in the country’s football and sports in general,” Umahi said.

The Secretary-General of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) Tunde Popoola said the victory demonstrated how great Nigeria was in diversity.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Football Coaches Association, Godwin Bamigboye, praised coach Gernot Rohr for the crucial role he played in qualifying the team for the World Cup.

Toughest games

“A lot of eyebrows were raised when the Nigeria Football Federation appointed Rohr as the head coach of the Super Eagles. Well, look who has taken the team to next year’s World Cup?.

“The German coach has shown tactical acumen, leading the Super Eagles through the qualifying campaign without defeat so far and making fans believe in the team again," he said.

Former international Emmanuel Babayaro praised the Super Eagles for the hard-fought victory, adding that the Zambians were a difficult nut to crack.

“Congratulations to the boys and technical crew for the hard-fought victory. This has to stand out as one of the toughest games played in the qualifier so far, " he said.

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