Asaba, Nov. 13, 2018
Players of Super Eagles have praised Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta for his incentive of $25,000 for every goal in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa.
They, in a statement on Tuesday in Asaba, admitted that the incentive would motivate them to fire from all cylinders.
While visiting the team at its evening training session on Tuesday, alongside the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, Okowa pledged the sum of $25,000 for every goal scored by Nigeria in the crucial tie.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Eagles lost their first-ever competitive match against the Bafana Bafana on Match Day 1 of the series in Uyo 17 months ago.
With the added pull of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with a match to spare, Okowa’s cash pledge has come in ample time.
“I am pleased to have the Super Eagles here in Asaba. We hope you will make Asaba your home, and as a people we will begin to follow your progress even more closely.
“We appreciate the giant strides Nigerian football is making and commend the leadership of the NFF for making Delta part of its success story.
“For every goal scored by the Super Eagles in Johannesburg on Saturday, we pledge a reward of $25,000.
“Please don’t put a limit to the number of goals you score on Saturday. Try and score as many as possible.”
Stand-in team captain Ahmed Musa responded on behalf of his teammates, saying “we thank Gov. Okowa, so much for the motivation to us to do well in Johannesburg on Saturday.
“We promise that we will return here on Sunday with victory. We will also do all we can to give the people of Asaba and the generality of Delta and Nigerians a very good game against Uganda next Tuesday.”
Pinnick, while responding, said: “We appreciate Okowa for the tremendous support given to the Super Eagles and by extension, the NFF.
“The bill for next Tuesday’s international friendly against Uganda has been underwritten completely by the Delta Government.
“As Okowa said, this state will begin to play a more prominent role in the programmes of the NFF and the Super Eagles.
“I want to commend the Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, for assembling a young, professional and very efficient team for now and the future.
“We will continue to do all we can to make sure they do Nigeria proud,’’ he said.
“I thank the Delta Government for their hospitality and for making us feel so comfortable. I am so happy because the pitch is in a much better state than the last time I was here.
“The Super Eagles will continue to work hard to make all those who have played one role or the other in its progress happy that their investment in the team is not a waste.”
Meanwhile, team captain Ahmed Musa and 21 other players trained at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Tuesday evening.
The Super Eagles by the training stepped into gear for Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying battle against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Johannesburg.
According to a statement by Ademola Olajire, the Director of Communications, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), there were goalkeepers Daniel Akpeyi, Theophilus Afelokhai and Ikechukwu Ezenwa at the training.
“At the training, we also had defenders Olaoluwa Aina, Adeleye Aniyikaye, Semi Ajayi, Bryan Idowu, William Ekong, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo and Jamilu Collins.
“There were also midfielders Oghenekaro Etebo, John Ogu and Mikel Agu, and forwards Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Henry Onyekuru, Alex Iwobi, Isaac Success and Samuel Chukwueze.
“Only France-based forward Samuel Kalu is expected on Wednesday,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria needs just one point from Saturday’s encounter inside the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg to be sure of a ticket.
On Match Day 1 of the qualifying series, South Africa won 2-0 with goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau right inside the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.
However the defeat, the first-ever loss to South Africa in a competitive match, stirred the formidable spirit in the Eagles.
They went on to sweep all before them to earn a 2018 FIFA World Cup ticket with a match to spare.
Also, since the 2019 AFCON qualifiers resumed in September, Nigeria has won all three matches to stand at the door of qualification with a match to spare.
Nigeria’s delegation to Saturday’s big match will depart the country aboard a chartered flight from the Benin City Airport on Thursday evening.