Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has advised the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to intensify preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, saying Nigerians would not accept failure at the world football tournament.
Wike spoke Monday during a courtesy visit by the President of the NFF at the Government House, Port Harcourt, saying that exiting the World Cup at the group stage would prove unacceptable to Nigerians.
“If you fail to advance beyond the group stage, don’t bother to return,” the Governor said.
“Find excuses to stay there in Russia. Nigerians expect the best from the Super Eagles. That is why the NFF must intensify preparations.”
Governor Wike urged the management of the NFF to close ranks and work in unity for the development of football in the country.
“There must be disagreements; but these disagreements should be platforms for development,” said the Governor. “Disagreements should not destroy the place. It should make NFF stronger.”
The Governor said that the State Government is using football as a source of youth empowerment.
According to him, “Football is a unifying factor in the country, as it douses tensions whenever the nation is engaged in international sporting events.
Governor Wike commended the football federation for the notable improvements in the country’s league, charging it to develop it to the level where teams can win on the strength of their capabilites.
Earlier, NFF President Amaju Pinnick said that the NFF was in the southern state to thank Governor Wike for providing the foundation for the qualification of Super Eagles for the World Cup.
He said the journey to Russia 2018 started in Port Harcourt after the Super Eagles defeated Swaziland.
“The Governor created the right environment that led to the qualification of Super Eagles for the World Cup. This journey started here in Port Harcourt. Today, Port Harcourt has become a destination of choice,” said Pinnick.
He formally invited Wike to be part of the country’s delegation to the World Cup, saying that the country would benefit from the sporting experience of the Rivers State Governor.