Port Harcourt — Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has advised the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to intensify preparations for the World Cup 2018 as Nigerians will not accept failure of the Super Eagles at the Mundial in Russia.
Speaking during a courtesy visit of the President of the NFF to him at the Government House in Port Harcourt yesterday, Wike said exiting the World Cup at the group stage would be unacceptable to Nigerians.
According to Wike: "If you (Eagles) fail to advance beyond the group stage, don't bother to return. Find excuses to stay there in Russia. Nigerians expect the best from the Super Eagles. That is why the NFF must intensify preparations to do well at the World Cup," stressed Wike.
He urged the management of the NFF to close ranks and work in unity for the development of football in the country.
"There must be disagreements, but these disagreements should be platforms for development. Disagreements should not destroy the place. It should make NFF stronger," Wike noted.
The governor said Rivers State government was using football as a source of empowerment for the youths.
He said football was a unifying factor in the country, as it douses tension whenever the nation is engaged in international sporting events.
Wike commended the NFF for the notable improvements in the country's league, charging the NFF leadership to develop it to the level where teams can win on the strength of their capacity.
Earlier, the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, said that the federation was in the state to thank Wike for providing the foundation for the qualification of Super Eagles for the World Cup.
He said the journey to Russia 2018 started in Port Harcourt after the Super Eagles defeated Swaziland.
"The governor created the right environment that led to the qualification of Super Eagles for the World Cup. This journey started here in Port Harcourt. Today, Port Harcourt has become a destination of choice," observed the NFF chief.
He formally invited Wike to be part of the country's delegation to the World Cup, stressing that Nigeria would benefit from the sporting experience of the Rivers State governor.
As part of NFF's preparation of the Super Eagles for the battles ahead in Russia, Gernot Rohr's men are take on Poland on March 23 and Serbia on March 27 respectively.
They are also programmed to play the Three Lions of England on June 2 at Wembley, before heading to Russia to face Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Group D of the World Cup.