President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Sani Lulu Abdullahi has appealed to Nigerians from all walks of life to put aside personal feelings and prejudice and rally behind the national U-17 team in their attempt to defend the FIFA U-17 World Cup title.
Lulu said it is time to get behind the national project and forget personal interests and other distractions.
“This is a Nigeria project. This team is flying our flag and I appeal to all Nigerians to see the team as their own team.
“These young boys need all support throughout the competition. As Cup holders, we have a great opportunity to successfully defend the title. That will help the spirit of all youngsters involved in the game in Nigeria and the positive feeling will rub off on our other teams”, said Lulu Abdullahi.
Nigeria aim to become only the second country in history (after Brazil) to successfully the U-17 trophy. Brazil won in Egypt in 1997 and in New Zealand in 1999.
“So many things have happened in the last few weeks, with so many people airing divergent views and opinions on the game. There have been misquotations and mis –representations of one’s views and statements in sections of the media, but as far as I am concerned, this is not a personal issue.
“Whoever wants to contest election into NFF Board or wants to be NFF President is free to have ambition, and should pursue their ambition with the utmost sense of responsibility, consideration for national interest and decency. Hawking of falsehood would not help, and could even hurt Nigeria football, which should be the permanent interest of all.
“I am making this heartfelt appeal because I know that with the support of all Nigerians, these boys can go all the way.
“Our team performed below expectation at the U-20 World Cup in Egypt and all manner of masquerades came out from their hiding place, airing their views. It is unfortunate. But the truth is Nigeria is bigger than any individual.
“I desire nothing for personal interest; all I do are in the interest of development of Nigeria football”.
Nigeria take on Germany in their first match of the tournament at the National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday, starting from 7pm.