As Nigerian national team, Super Eagles warm up for their friendly matches against Poland and Serbia later this month ahead of the 2018 World Cup, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja received the FIFA World Cup trophy ahead of the tournament in Russia in June.
President Buhari noted with delight that the Super Eagles were the first African team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Buhari also received the CHAN Super Eagles team and Nigeria’s Bobsled Winter Olympic team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He pledged his administration’s support for the team towards winning the trophy in June.
According to him, football has been a great unifying factor among the ethnic groups in the country.
He lauded the world football ruling body for allowing the trophy to tour two cities in Nigeria, Abuja and Lagos,
“I wish to thank FIFA for deeming it fit to include two cities in Nigeria, Abuja and Lagos, in the FIFA World Cup Trophy tour by Coca Cola.
“Football has a cult followership in Nigeria. Our passion for football cut across all ethnic groups and also plays a key in unifying our peoples from various backgrounds,’’ he said.
President Buhari commended Coca Cola for investing part of its resources in the development of football in Nigeria and urged other organisations to emulate the company.
He also appreciated the efforts of members of the CHAN Eagles that won silver in Morocco as well as the 2018 Nigeria’s Bobsleigh Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“We are proud of you and the team to the Bobsleigh Winter Olympics in South Korea,’’ he said.
Solomon Dalung, Minister of Sports and Youth Development, appreciated the efforts of President Buhari for his continued support for the Super Eagles and other sports activities in the country.
He disclosed that the ladies that brought honours to Nigeria at the Bobsleigh Winter Olympics in South Korea deserved commendation.
He said that two of them, who were based in the United States, sponsored their training and participation at the competition.
Speaking at the event, Christian Karembeu, FIFA representative who presented the FIFA World Cup trophy to the President, urged the Super Eagles to believe in themselves in order to go far in the competition.
Peter Njonjo, President of Coca Cola West Africa revealed that the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour was launched in 2006 as an exclusive partnership by FIFA and Coca Cola.
He expressed the hope that the ceremony on Wednesday would turn out to be “a dress rehearsal for the return of the trophy in July if the Super Eagles wins the competition.’’