The Executive Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, CON, on Thursday expressed absolute confidence in the ability of the U-17 National Team, Golden Eaglets, to conquer the world at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup finals taking place in the United Arab Emirates later in the year.
Speaking at the Government House, Calabar while receiving a delegation of the Nigeria Football Federation led by 1st Vice President, Chief Mike Umeh, Governor Imoke equated the silver medal won by the Golden Eaglets at the African U-17 Championship in Morocco to gold, and assured that his administration would give the team all necessary support to go to the United Arab Emirates to lift the World Cup.
“The Eaglets were only unlucky to lose the final match of the African championship on penalties. The boys are good and destined for greatness. I believe that from here, we will produce the next U-17 champions of the world.”
The Cross River State number one man, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Wednesday, July 10, praised the Nigeria Football Federation for their policy thrust and thoroughness in producing one of the best U-17 teams to have been raised in this country, and also commended the coaches for their patience, diligence and direction.
“Everytime I see the boys, I feel so proud and excited. The Government and entire people of Cross River State are in love with the Eaglets. You see, football continues to be the biggest unifier of our peoples across the different states and regions, and across several other mental boundaries.
“The only time our peoples are less concerned about their sentiments and backgrounds is when our football teams are playing and winning. These Eaglets are doing well and I believe they will represent the country with dignity and honour, and acquit themselves effectively and efficiently at the World Cup.”
Announcing that he has approved that the team have its final camping programme ahead of the World Cup in Calabar, as requested by the NFF, Governor Imoke said: “The Government and people of Cross River State identify with success, and we are known to be harbingers of success ourselves. We will give the NFF and the Eaglets all the support to do well at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.”
It can be recalled that the Super Eagles played their home matches in the qualifying series for the 2013 FIFA World Cup finals in Calabar, before going to South Africa to lift the trophy. The Eagles are on the verge of qualifying for the 10-team final elimination round for the 2014 FIFA World Cup having played all their home games in Calabar, and the Eaglets also prosecuted their home matches in Canaan City before
finishing as runners-up at the African Championship in Morocco.
Speaking earlier, NFF 1st Vice President, Chief Mike Umeh heaped plaudits on Governor Imoke, his administration and the good people of Cross River State for all the support they have given Nigeria football over the years. He then presented the governor with a silver medal from the African U-17 Championship, to which the governor responded: “I can’t remember when I last wore a medal.”
Also present at the courtesy visit were the Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Cross River State, Honourable Patrick Ugbe, the State’s Commissioners for Information and Works, NFF’s Director of Technical, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme, Vice Chairman of Cross River State FA, Mr. Oswald Atuake, NFF’s Assistant Director (Media), Mr. Ademola Olajire, Secretary of Cross River State FA, Mr. Greg Abang and special assistant to NFF General Secretary, Dr. Christian Emeruwa.