By CHIMAOBI UCHENDU
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state has charged the Flying Eagles to go and conquer the world in Turkey when the Under-20 World Cup begins. He equally asked them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria on and off the pitch. Governor Obi said in Nnewi as he bided the team bye from its month-long training camp in Anambra State under the sponsorship of the state government. He reminded the John Obuh’s side, who relinquished its African title at the Algeria 2013 Championship to put the disappointment behind it and focus on the task ahead in Turkey where it hopes to surpass the quarter final feat achieved last term in Colombia.
“I’m happy that we have played a good host to these youngsters and the people of Anambra State wish you well as you face the world in Turkey soon, Governor Obi started. “These boys are now better equipped for the challenges ahead and we in Anambra are happy to have contributed our little quota to better the team. “People taught we were not a football-loving state, but we have proved them wrong with what we had done with the Flying Eagles. “We’re are ready to do it again and empower our youths through the ministry of sports led by Dr. Edozie Aroh, a man that understands sports in its entirety”. It would recalled that governor Obi presented a cheque of N24m (£96,200) to the Flying Eagles to cover their expenses for their one-month camping in the state in the run-up to the Under-20 World Cup.
At a reception for the team in Awka, Governor Obi said the money would take care of the players’ accommodation, feeding, medication and allowances during their camping. He also announced a 30% increase in the monthly allowance paid to Enugu Rangers former players with effect from January in addition to N50,000 Christmas bonus they would get. In addition, the governor presented a cheque of N30m to Ikpeazu Redoutable Football Club at the Imeobi playground Onitsha. This is similar to the amount he recently presented to Rommy Ezeonwuka, the owner of the Rojenny Stadium. Governor Obi said the money was to assist the club to upgrade the infrastructure at the playground and equip players for future competitions. He added that he was optimistic that the facility would produce future champions, provide employment and check crime.
The Commissioner for Sports in Anambra State, Dr. Edozie Arohspeaking, in the same vein, commended Governor Obi for his foresight and his passion for youth sports development and asked the team to put all they had learnt in Nnewi to use as they face the world in Turkey. In his response, Coach John Obuh said he was overwhelmed by the love that had been showered on them by Governor Obi and all good people of the state and promised not to disappoint Nigerians in Turkey. He noted that he had worked hard on the team to avert the ugly experience the country witnessed at the last World Cup in Colombia. “The last time, we crashed out in the quarter-final match against France and that was a game we ought to have won. “So, we will ensure that this team does well at the World Cup because winning bronze at the AYC does not mean that they can’t win the World Cup. “We are going for Toulon tournament in France which will come up later this month.
“The team will camp in Europe to enable it prepare for the Toulon tournament and the World Cup; it will travel from there to Turkey for its first game against Portugal,” he added. Nigeria is one of Africa’s four representatives at the World Cup due in Turkey between June 21 and July 13 alongside Egypt, Ghana and Mali. In preparation for the tournament, the Flying Eagles are camping in Anambra State to fine-tune things and the governor has promised them his full support.