With less than one month to the much anticipated kick off of the 2010 FIFA World in South Africa, more and more Nigerians have continued to lend their voices to the call for the Federal Government to take a more active role in mobilizing fans for the Super Eagles.
The calls are coming as Nigeria prepares to play perennial foes and one of the favourites to win the cup, Argentina in the Group B opener on June 12. So, far the only Nigerian fans who are sure to be in South Africa to cheer the Super Eagles are the usual supporters club.
Nkechi Obi, MD/CEO of Premium Sports Management Services Ltd. (PSMS) has said that more should be done by the government and corporate organizations in the country to ensure a truly befitting and respectable appearance by Nigeria and the Super Eagles at this yearâ€™s World Cup.
She urged the Federal Government to borrow a leaf from its Ghanaian counterpart which is sponsoring 2,600 Ghanaian fans to South Africa to cheer its team, the Black Stars to victory. She believes that it wonâ€™t be out of place if the government sponsors at least 5,000 Nigerians to cheer the Super Eagles.
According to her, the Nigerian government has the unique opportunity of using the 2010 World Cup to showcase the country to the world, especially since the tournament coincides with Nigeriaâ€™s 50th Independence anniversary.
â€œI understand that the government has budgeted about N100 million to mark Nigeriaâ€™s 50 years of independence, but it could do more, especially at a time when the World Cup is taking place in Africa,â€ she said.
Speaking in the same vein, Ajibade Daramola, a computer engineer and football analyst wondered why the government will always take government officials to international competitions like the World Cup, and not sponsor the real Nigerian fans that will go out there to really support the Nigerian team.
â€œAs the giant of Africa, we are supposed to storm South Africa in such manner that FIFA and the rest of the world would continue to remember in a long while and I think the Naija Fan Village has created that opportunity,â€ Daramola concluded
On his part, Segun Fatusi, a public affairs analyst and football enthusiast, argued that nothing should be spared in the celebration of the nationâ€™s golden jubilee., including making sure that Nigeria puts up a strong showing at this yearâ€™s World Cup. Citing Ghana as an example, he said the West African country mapped out activities spanning two years to mark its 50 years of independence.
â€œFootball is the one sport that has unified Nigeria in the past 50 years, and I think the government should do all it can to make sure that our team excels at the World Cup. And one way it can do this is by taking as many Nigerian fans as possible to cheer the Super Eagles in South Africa. That will be the perfect independence gift,â€ he said.