The Federal Government in Abuja on Thursday released N490 million to the Super Eagles to participate in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The money, which was released to the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), was part of the funds approved for the team to participate in the competition.
Julius Ogunro, the Special Assistant (Media) to Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the second and final part of the funds would be released in due course.
“Information has come from the Office of the Accountant-General that the money has been released, while the NFA too has confirmed receipt of the money in their account,’’ he said.
Nigeria is one of 16 countries taking part in the AFCON which starts in South Africa on Saturday.
The competition, which ends on Feb. 10, is to hold in five South African cities with the Super Eagles scheduled to play their three matches in the first round in Nelspruit and Johannesburg.
Ogunro said the Sports Minister, who is also the Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), worked tirelessly to ensure the funds were released on time to the team’s handlers.
“The minister and all concerned had worked tirelessly to make sure the money got to the team and their handlers on time for their successful campaign at the Nations Cup.
“We hope that with this first instalment, the pursuit of glory for Nigeria will commence so as to return Nigeria to its place of pride in African football,’’ he said.
Ogunro, however, said the NSC would continue to work tirelessly to ensure the remaining part of the money was released in a matter of days.
“We are already working on that and we hope that in the next few days the balance of N300 million will equally be released to the NFA,’’ he said.
NFA’s Secretary-General, Musa Amadu, confirmed the receipt of the money to NAN.
He said the football body would go on to ensure judicious use of the money as well as a successful campaign by the team.
“The money came into our account today and we will go on to judiciously utilise it,’’ Amadu said.
He said NFA had done all that was necessary to make the team comfortable in the competition.
“We have done all that is needed to prime the team for action in South Africa.
“Not only that, we have done well enough to make the team competitive, and we are hopeful that Nigerians will be happy with the results,’’ Amadu said.
NAN reports that the Super Eagles are in Group C of the competition alongside Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and defending champions Zambia.
They will play their opening game on Monday against Burkina Faso.