The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung, provided the big impetus that steered the Super Eagles to a 1-0 victory over Libya on Friday at the 5th African Nations Championship, which has now taken the team close to a place in the quarter –finals.
NFF 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko said that Dalung actually swung the game Nigeria’s way hours before kick –off, when he approved that the players be paid the full bonus for the drawn opening match against Rwanda if they earned the maximum points against 2014 champions Libya.
“The Honourable Minister should get the credit for that victory because his approval for the team to be paid full bonus for the Rwanda game if they defeated Libya meant the players went all out, knowing they would be getting two full bonuses with a win.
“The approval was simply to restore the 50% the team lost for drawing against Rwanda,” Dikko explained.
On Tuesday, the Eagles have opportunity of going for a third full bonus when they take on pointless debutants Equatorial Guinea at the Stade Adrar in Agadir, at the same time Libya will be playing Rwanda in what promises to be an explosive tie in Tangier. Kick –off is 7pm Morocco time (8pm in Nigeria).
Four –pointer Nigeria will be guaranteed a place in the last eight if they avoid defeat against Equatorial Guinea. Rwanda, also with four points and same one goal advantage as Nigeria, will hope to also avoid defeat against three –pointer Libya to reach the last eight.
If the Eagles finish top of the table, they would return to Tangier to tackle the second –placed team in Group D on Sunday, 28th January with the possibility of a semi final in Marrakech three days later.
Should they finish second in the pool, they would be up against the top –placed team in Group D in Agadir also on Sunday, 28th January with the possibility of a semi final at Casablanca’s Stade Mohamed V three days later.
The final match of the championship is scheduled for the Stade Mohamed V on Sunday, 4th February.