Three-time champions Nigeria have arrived in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan for the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals.
The chartered aircraft that conveyed players and officials of the Super Eagles touched down at 11.23am Cote d’Ivoire time (12.23pm Nigeria time), with the contingent dressed in Nigeria traditional kaftan attire with cap to match.
Their colour and pomp matched the ambience and flavour of the Send Forth ceremony organized for the team by the Lagos State Government on Tuesday night, with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu as chief host.
Also present were Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Enoh, NFF President Ibrahim Musa Gusau and members of NFF Executive Committee, FIFA Council Member Amaju Pinnick, NFF General Secretary Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, First Lady of Lagos State Dr. Ibironke Sanwo-Olu, top officials of the Lagos State Government, Chairman and Board Members of the Lagos State Football Association, representatives of NFF Partners and Sponsors, some other corporate chieftains, some members of the NFF Management, former Nigeria captain Segun Odegbami, former Super Eagles’ star Ogenyi Onazi, former international and Chairman of Anambra State FA Chikelue Iloenyosi, leading artistes, top celebrities and influencers.
President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau told the audience that he has the assurance of the Head Coach, Jose Peseiro, and the top players that they are going on an onslaught for a fourth continental title in Cote d’Ivoire.
“I have spoken to the Head Coach and the Captain, and also a good number of the players, and they have assured me of their determination to push strongly for triumph in Cote d’Ivoire, thereby winning the trophy for a fourth time.”
He added that the NFF is very grateful to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR for approving funds for the team’s preparation and participation at the continental finals.
Sanwo-Olu harped on the fact that football is Nigeria’s biggest unifying factor, reiterating that “our peoples from different regions and religion, cultures, norms and social and economic backgrounds come together to cheer our National Teams whenever they are playing. Football brings us all together.
“I am making a pledge to be personally present at the Africa Cup of Nations to support you. We know you are all geared to perform at the AFCON and make our country proud. We will give you all the support and encouragement that you require.”
Senator Enoh charged the players to approach each of their matches with the fabled Nigerian Spirit, with which they can always surmount obstacles, odds and hurdles and achieve glory.
“With over 200 million Nigerians eagerly watching and supporting, your performance holds the hopes and dreams of our entire nation.
“Take the fight to your opponents and show the Naija Spirit that you carry.”
Captain Ahmed Musa acknowledged the power of football and stated that even though he knows the joy of winning the Africa Cup trophy, having been part of the squad that triumphed in South Africa in 2013, he is eagerly anticipating another touch of the coveted trophy.
“We are ambitious and we will do our best. The AFCON is an important tournament for every African player, and we are all looking forward to giving our best to do the nation proud.”
The Confederation of African Football has scheduled a photo shoot for the Super Eagles for Wednesday afternoon.