Members and officials of the homegrown Super Eagles who won bronze at the 2014 African Nations Championship in South Africa have been rewarded with cash prizes ranging from N500,000 to N1.5m.
Speaking on Thursday night at a dinner in Abuja held in honour of the team, President Goodluck Jonathan commended them for raising the nation’s flag with pride at the tournament, and announced a donation of N1m to each player and N1.5m to the coach.
The three assistant coaches got N1m each, while the team secretary, team doctor, team physiotherapist, chief technical officer, team doctor, team coordinator, team media officer and curator received N500,000 each.
“I am delighted to receive the Super Eagles of Nigeria, who did the nation proud with their brilliant performance at the recently concluded 2014 Orange Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa”, the president said.
“The team’s impressive performance adds to a memorable season for Nigerian football, starting with victories at both the 2013 African Cup of Nations and the FIFA Under-17 World Cup competitions”.
Jonathan expressed happiness with the team, which, despite placing third at the championship, exhibited an uncommon degree of resilience, discipline, commitment and patriotism throughout the competition.
“This is even more noteworthy considering that this is the first time that Nigeria is qualifying for this particular championship”, he said.
“My dear Super Eagles, I keenly followed your performance from the group stage up to the last third-place match. I noted that you epitomized the true never-say-die Nigerian spirit, especially in the match against Morocco’s Atlas Lions where you came from a three-goal deficit to win the match against all expectations.
“You may not have won the championship, but you performed gallantly, competed fairly and made all Nigerians proud. You also produced the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and, today, some of you are being sought after by renowned football clubs around the world. As the coach has confirmed, some of you may make our team to the FIFA World Cup in June this year”.
Jonathan noted that their exploits at the championship further demonstrated the fact that the efforts being put into rebranding and reinvigorating the Nigerian Football League are yielding positive results. He conceded that there is still much more work to be done, but observed that the Nigerian league is already ranked among the best on the continent.
“On behalf of all Nigerians, I would like to specially congratulate each and every member of the team for your remarkable achievement. The glory and honour which you have brought our fatherland is greatly appreciated. You are a credit to Nigeria, your Clubs, and your families”, he continued.
“Let me encourage you all to remain committed. To take your game to greater heights, you must not forgo the discipline and all other qualities you displayed and the experience and exposure you have gained from the competition.
“Let me also commend the technical team for their dedication in preparing this team for this commendable result. It is evident that we are reaping the dividends of our investments in the sports sector.
“The Supporters Club deserves special commendation for the unflagging inspiration they continue to provide our national teams. I will like to seize this opportunity to assure you all that our Administration will continue to give maximum support to our sportsmen and women to enable them optimally realize their potentials for excellence on the international stage”.
He then announced the cash donations, describing it as a token of the Federal Government’s gratitude for “the heroic efforts of these gallant patriots”.