Sao Paolo — The Super Eagles yesterday morning arrived Curitiba at about 10:30am (2:30pm Nigerian time) ahead of tomorrow's Group F clash with Iran at the Arena da Baixada.
Before departing their Team Base in Campinas - a one and half hour drive from Sao Paolo - the African Champions were serenaded by the Federal Government delegation led by Senate President, David Mark, amid promises of hefty reward from President Goodluck Jonathan if they did the country proud at the World Cup here in Brazil.
The senate president told the Super Eagles and their handlers that Jonathan believes it was time an African country that would win the World Cup. "When we (Nigeria) won the Olympics gold medal at Atlanta '96, we defeated countries like Argentina and Brazil, so I believe we can have a repeat performance at this year's World Cup, with the talents available to us in this team", Mark recalled. He assured the players and officials that the government was ready to do all it can within available resources to make the team comfortable in the championship, adding that he will personally remain to attend all the team's games in the opening rounds of the championship. While acknowledging the good conduct of the players so far, the senate president thanked the Mayor of Campinas, Mr Donas Donizete, for his support for Nigeria.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Aminu Maigari, said he was thrilled by the presence of such a delegation of top government personalities in town to motivate the Super Eagles. Maigari assured all that with the calibre of players paraded by the African champions, Nigerians and indeed Africans will not be wide of the mark if they start thinking of winning the World Cup. Head Coach of the team, Stephen Keshi, said he was happy to see top government functionaries visiting the team before they kick their first ball of the tournament as that has been a motivating factor for him in his playing days, which saw him captaining the squad for 14 years.
Responding on behalf of the players, Eagles' captain, Joseph Yobo, assured Nigerians once again that the team will not disappoint at the tournament, while calling for prayers and positive attitude from all and sundry. Mark later presented Yobo with the national flags while Keshi also received a flag for the team. Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi Achor, was also given Nigerian flags to be displayed on the Eagles' bus during each game they play. All the 23 players also received the national flags from dignitaries present, with all of them assuring that they will not let the nation down. After the eventful occasion, the visitors went into a private session with the players and coaches during which sundry issues concerning the team's welfare were discussed. The media was excused from the meeting.
The delegation from Abuja included ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Muhammed; Youth, Bonny Haruna; Culture, Chief Edem Duke; and host Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo. Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke; Chairman Senate Committee on Sports, Sen. Adamu Gumba; and his House of Representatives counterpart, Hon Godfrey Gaya, were also part of the government delegation that visited Eagles yesterday.