This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Eagles Officials - NFF Pillar Behind Eagles Afcon Win

Top officials of the Super Eagles including Team Coordinator Emmanuel Atta, Secretary, Dayo Enebi Achor and team spokesman, Ben Alaiya have come out strongly to defend the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), for the huge role it played in the Nations Cup triumph of the team in South Africa. Insisting that but for the Aminu Maigari-led NFF board, it could have been a different story at South Africa 2013.

Super Eagles Media Officer, Ben Alaiya, said in a statement said insinuations that the NFF was at war with the national team make-up during the SA 2013 tournament was far from the truth as the NFF President and most of his board members attended virtually all the training sessions of the team leading to the victory over Burkina Faso in Johannesburg.

"No single person can win a tournament of the magnitude of the Nations Cup, it was a collective job and Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, acknowledged that fact and has repeatedly said so. So we must be careful in labelling the NFF, because they provided all necessary logistics for friendly games leading to the tournament and stood by the technical crew even when majority of Nigerians wrote them off," Alaiya quoted Atta as saying.

On the controversial issue of tickets being issued ahead of the tie against Cote d'Ivoire, Achor, declared that it was a CAF regulation to prepare tickets for the two teams that were playing the quarter finals in advance, as none of them was to stay in the hotel beyond 24 hours after the game.

Even the team that qualifies was also to move to the next venue of the tournament immediately, according to CAF regulations.

"So, the Ivoriens also had their departure tickets and you will recall that they left under 24 hours. So there should be no controversy over that.

"It was based on that proposal from CAF that I spoke to all the players on where they would like their tickets to be routed and I am sure that the Ivorien federation also did same to their team. So there was no issue about the NFF or the backroom staff as we are now labelled wishing the team bad," he declared.

Meanwhile, the team in its entirety has hailed the good gesture of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State and his Lagos state counterpart, Babatunde Raji Fashola.

Spokesman of the team, Ben Alaiya, said the heroic welcome accorded the team in Asaba and Lagos and the rewards for officials of the team was unprecedented in the annals of football.

"The two governors have shown that they are not only supporters of the game but partners of the sport and the NFF is taking note of their support."

It will be recalled that last week Delta and Lagos held lavish welcome parties for the Eagles in Asaba and Ikeja, doling out cash rewards for the team and its officials.

Similarly, Akwa Ibom and Cross River State say they will host the team during the World Cup qualifier in next month in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital. Akwa Ibom State Information Commissioner, Aniekan Umannah and the Youth and Sports Commissioner for Cross River, Patrick Ugbeh, gave the clarification in separate chats.

Umannah said the plan is to have the indigene of the state, who wore the captain's arm-band in the final, Vincent Enyeama around when the team is hosted.

"Also Governor Goodswill Akpabio is presently out of town and we have to rescheduled the hosting to accord the team its pride of place."

Ugbe, whose state hosted all the qualifier of the team, said he was delighted that the team has won the trophy and Governor Liyel Imoke, is eagerly awaiting to receive the trophy by March 23, when the qualifier is played.

"When no one believed in this team, we did and they have proved us right, now is the time for the government and people of the state to say well done and do more for Nigeria," he declared.

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