Sports and Youth Development Minister, Honourable Sunday Dare has heaped plaudits on the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for making merit and competence its watchwords in the selection of coaches for the age-grade National Teams, as agreed with the Ministry, and which has started to bear fruits with excellent performances at U20 and U17 levels of recent.
Dare made this pronouncement on Tuesday while hosting players and officials of the U17 Boys, Golden Eaglets to a reception following their victory at the WAFU B U17 Championship in Cape Coast, Ghana.
“I want to give credit to the NFF for implementing the cardinal principles that we agreed at meetings on youth football development. Now, we can see that the emphasis on merit and competence has started to bear fruits. The U17 and U20 girls have qualified for their FIFA World Cup competitions with aplomb and the U17 and U20 boys have won regional tournaments in an emphatic manner, with promises of what we can look forward to at their African championships next year.
“Our hard focus on grassroots development in all sports will continue. I congratulate the players and their coaches of the Golden Eaglets for winning so convincingly in Ghana and I want to charge you to remain focused on the continental championship in order to get the ticket to the World Cup. For you players, you must stay humble, hardworking and obedient to your coaches.”
On his part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar warned the players against allowing distractions from all manner of agents and player-managers, and rather be dedicated to improving their craft with temperance, endurance and a level head.
NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi introduced each player and team official for a special handshake with the Honourable Minister, stating that Head Coach Nduka Ugbade was the captain of the first Nigeria team to win the FIFA Cadet World Cup, and was also assistant coach to Manu Garba when Nigeria triumphed in the United Arab Emirates in 2013. “He is also a global consultant on football science.”
Ugbade hailed the event as “a special occasion” and said the team is encouraged to do its utmost to continue to bring honour to the nation, first by putting up a stellar outing at the U20 AFCON in Algeria and then going on to hold its own at the FIFA World Cup finals in Peru.
Also at the occasion were President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engineer Habu Ahmed Gumel; Director of Federations and Elite Athletes Department, Dr Simon Ebhojiaye; NFF’s Director of Communications, Mr Ademola Olajire; Director of Facilities in the Ministry, Mr Olatunji Okedairo and; special assistants to the Honourable Minister, Ms Mary Onyali and Messrs Toyin Ibitoye and Kola Adeyanju.