The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria became one million naira richer on Sunday evening following an accustomed show of magnanimity by the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Aminu Maigari.
Mr. Maigari gave the players and officials the amount at the dressing room of the U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar, following a 2-0 win over the seemingly ‘more matured’ Mali U-17 side in the 2013 African U-17 Championship qualifying fixture, first leg.
“I am delighted by your performance today, just as I was when I watched you against Guinea in the second round some weeks ago. Certainly, you are the future of Nigeria football. But I want you to keep level heads and continue to improve as you abide by the instructions of your coaches.
“I am giving you this sum of money as appreciation of your toil and enterprise against a Malian team that looked much older, and also to motivate you ahead of the return leg in Bamako in two weeks,” Mr. Maigari said.
Defender Wilfred Ndidi and midfielder Alhassan Ibrahim got the goals for Nigeria in an entertaining game that was officiated by whistle-happy Ivorian referee, Kouame Ndri.
The Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Efiok Cobham, represented Governor Liyel Imoke while Mr. Maigari and the NFF’s 1st Vice President, Mike Umeh, led the NFF crew.
NFF chieftains were full of praises for the Eaglets and their technical crew, consisting of Manu Garba, Head Coach; Emmanuel Amuneke, 1st Assistant; Nduka Ugbade, 2nd Assistant; and Emeka Amadi, Goalkeepers’ Trainer – all ex-international players.
The NFF chieftains, however, cast doubts over the authenticity of the declared ages of the Malian team.
“We are going to protest to CAF concerning this Malian team. Physiologically, it is not possible that the players are under the age of 17,” said Chris Green, chairman of the NFF Technical Committee.
The return leg will take place in Bamako in a fortnight with the winner on aggregate qualifying for the finals in Morocco in April 2013.