By Demola Olajire, in South Africa
Nigeriaâ€™s World Cup camp moved into Bloemfontein Mangaung on Wednesday noon ahead of todayâ€™s important FIFA World Cup Group B tango with Greece.
Both countries have no points after playing one match each in the tournament, the Nigerians losing 0-1 to Argentina at Ellis Park on Saturday while Greece were downed 2-0 by Korea Republic.
A cultural group welcomed the Super Eagles to the isolated, mountainâ€“side Bloem Spa Lodge and Conference Centre in the early afternoon with dancing and singing, in the sotho language.
Players and officials flew for nearly two hours from Richards Bay to the Free State Airport, and all moved in convoy to the hillside hotel, which will be home for the next forty eight hours.
The team would train at the 45,000â€“capacity Free State Stadium from 5.30pm, and will hold a press conference at the end of the training session.
Nigeria beat Greece 2-0 at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA, in the two teamsâ€™ only previous World Cup meeting, with goals from Finidi George and Daniel Amokachi, both goals coming at stoppage time of each half.
Coach Lars Lagerback has a full squad to choose from on today’s evening, and has hinted at likely changes in the starting lineâ€“up that featured against Argentina on Saturday.
Uchegbulam doesn’t expect any slip
First Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam, said on Wednesday that the Super Eagles know they must win todayâ€™s crucial World Cup Group B game against Greece in Bloemfontein to stay alive in the 2010 campaign.
â€œIt is not something that we have to labour to tell them. It is something they know, and they know what it means not to win. I believe they will go all out and do what they have to do, by giving Nigeria victory.
â€œThey are all great professionals with good attitude, just as the Technical Adviser, Mr. Lagerback, described them. They know what it means to be in the FIFA World Cup and have a chance to reach the knockâ€“out stage, and grab it. I donâ€™t expect they will let this slip byâ€.
The seasoned administrator, who is Chairman of the NFFâ€™s main organising committee for the tournament, also praised those with whom he has been working to ensure the smooth operation of Nigeriaâ€™s World Cup camp for their professionalism and commitment to the national assignment.
â€œWe have been able to show that a FIFA World Cup camp can run smoothly and without fuss. I commend the efforts of other people who have been working with me. They have shown great dedication and seriousness. They have been attentive and responsive.â€
Other persons who have ensured the smooth operation of Nigeriaâ€™s World Cup camp are leader of delegation, NFF President Sani Lulu Abdullahi, General Secretary Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Deputy General Secretaries Musa Amadu and Emmanuel Ikpeme, assistant general secretaries Musbau Kayode and Idris Adama, among others.
Uchegbulam, Vice Chairman of the CAF Board of Appeal, insisted that he has had to dig into many years of experience as a football administrator to effectively manage a fussâ€“less Nigeria World Cup camp.
â€œThat is the benefit of experience. You cannot buy it from the market. As someone who had served in several committees of the NFF since 1994, before becoming the first Vice President, and also worked as Chairman of a sub â€“seat of the FIFA U-17 World Cup which Nigeria hosted in 2009, one has a rich fountain to draw from.
â€œThis is the essence of experience, of continuity. I have learnt so much and it is important that some other people are given the opportunity to also learn and be able to help our countryâ€™s football in the near future. And that is why we brought the State FA Chairmen, firstâ€“class members of the NFF Congress to the FIFA World Cup here in South Africa. They will learn a number of things and these will be useful to Nigeriaâ€™s football development.
â€œWe donâ€™t care about what some detractors are saying back home. The important thing is the principle behind the sponsorship. Cynics can say whatever they like; we donâ€™t bother about them.â€