Super Eagles should aim for semifinal, says ex-sports minister, Suleiman

Super Eagles. PHOTO: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP


Former Sports Minister, Yusuf Suleiman wants the best preparation for the Super Eagles ahead of Russia 2018 World Cup.Suleiman resigned from the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in December 2011 shortly after leading Team Nigeria to a glorious outing at the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, where the country had one of its best moments at the Games. He said that with adequate preparation Nigeria can achieve the best of its potential, adding that the Eagles have what it takes to make a semifinal appearance in Russia.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Suleiman, a strong Arsenal supporter said: “I was so excited when the Super Eagles defeated Zambia to become the first African country to qualify for Russia. When the draws for the qualifiers were made, many people wrote off the Super Eagles just because we were in the same group with Algeria and Cameroun. But some of us remained optimistic, and we raised our hopes and encouraged the Super Eagles. We are now vindicated and I am happy for the leadership of the NFF.

“I congratulate my dear country for this remarkable accomplishment. Congratulations to President Muhammadu Buhari, the NFF President, the Secretary General and the entire Executive Committee members, all football stakeholders and other Nigerians.

“With the ticket now secured, I want the NFF to do everything possible to give the team the best preparation for the World Cup because I don’t want a situation where we go to Russia just to make up the numbers. We want to see the Super Eagles among the top four in Russia. It is possible because we have the players capable of making such a record, but the team must be given adequate preparation,” he stated.

Suleiman, a former Transport Minister, was made Minister of Sports in a July 2011 cabinet shuffle by former President Goodluck Jonathan. Under Jonathan, Suleiman played a key role by putting an end to the lingering crisis that was then rocking the football family. He met with representatives from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the rival Nigeria Football Association (NFA) and obtained agreement, which led to the suspension of litigation by the two groups. Suleiman’s tenure as sports minister lasted for five months before his resignation to become the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for governorship polls in Sokoto State.

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