This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Gov. Imoke, Diplomats Salute Glorious Golden Eaglets

Encomiums continue to pour in for the Golden Eaglets after their qualification for the 2003 African Under-17 Championship in a fashionable manner on Sunday with a 4-0 aggregate win over the Junior Eagles of Mali in Bamako.

In fact, the Golden Eagles were still drumming and singing in the dressing room when the congratulatory message of their foremost benefactor, Senator Liyel Imoke, the executive Governor of Cross River State, was delivered.

"I'm so happy with the result you got in Bamako today (Sunday) and your overall performance throughout the qualifiers really made me proud," said the likeable Governor in a short message service forwarded to the team through his Commissioner for Sports, Hon. Patrick Ugbe.

"Personally, I wish you well in your future engagements; the time now is for you to concentrate and prepare for the championship in Morocco. I wish you all the best."

Across the West coast city of Dakar came goodwill from Mr. Abubakar Muhammad, the Nigeria's Charge D'Affairs in Guinea who was monitoring the match despite his diplomatic engagement in Senegal.

"These boys have made all Nigerians proud and we really thank God that you eventually made it to the tournament in Morocco," Muhammad was quoted as saying in a telephone conversation with Golden Eaglets' Head coach, Manu Garba (MFR).

"I never had any doubt that you would make it after seeing the way you outplayed Guinea the last time in Conakry. Please, accept my congratulations."

Similarly, Nigeria's Ambassador in Mali, His Excellency, Ilya Nuhu who watched the game between the Golden Eaglets and Junior Eagles live at the Stade Mamadou Konate, said the achievement of the players gladdens his heart and Nigerians in general.

"I saw the way and manner you played against Mali with conviction but I don't want you to rest on your oars," the Ambassador told the players after their dinner on Sunday at their Columbus Hotel abode.

"That it happened here makes me so happy and I would implore you to continue to listen to your coaches so that you can even do better in Morocco."

Meanwhile, the Golden Eaglets would be feted to a dinner Monday night by the Nigerian Embassy before their departure from Bamako to Lagos en route to Uyo on Tuesday.

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