The Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, has congratulated the Super Eagles for clinching a ticket to the final of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after a 1-0 victory over Sudan.
A goal in the 14th minute by Gabriel Okechukwu was all that coach Salisu Yusuf needed to book a place in the final against host-Morocco on Sunday.
“I am so excited about this team and millions of football loving Nigerians who are rooting for the team to succeed in Morocco. They have shown that they are a work in progress as they continue to improve with every game.”
The minister praised the team for staying strong in the face of adversity to qualify for their first final since the inception of the competition after Ifeanyi got sent off very early in the second half for the second bookable offence of the night.
“Staying together to see out the game after the team was reduced to 10 men must be applauded. These boys braced all odds to achieve a result that will see the team play in their first final since the inception of CHAN.
“I must commend the team for a job well done despite coming with a great price tag. We were all worried when the captain and number 1 choice goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, got injured earlier in the first half and had to be replaced by Dele Ajiboye. With strings of world class saves, Ajiboye proved to be a dependable hand that any team would have wanted on such a night when the Sudanese threw everything at the team.”
Speaking ahead of the finals, Dalung enjoined the team to go all out on Sunday and shock Morocco by winning the title.
Despite admitting that playing against the host in the final of any competition is the toughest task any team can embark on, he is optimistic about the team’s chances against Morocco who earlier defeated Libya 3-1 in extra time.
“Mr. President is watching the tournament and following the progress of the team. With Nigerians always wanting to win, bringing the title home will be the perfect way to satisfy Nigerians.”