Cali, Colombia, August 12, 2011 –
The Flying Eagles are still walking with an extra bounce even days after President Goodluck Jonathan urged them to win the U20 World Cup in Colombia before the Round of 16 game against England.
President Jonathan spoke to the entire squad by telephone Monday morning Colombian time and asked them to do the country proud by bringing home the Junior World Cup.
“Nigerians are fully behind you and so you should therefore do the nation proud by winning the World Cup,” demanded President Jonathan.
In his response, coach John Obuh told the President: “As Vice-President, you inspired us to come from behind to draw with Germany on the opening day of the 2009 U17 World Cup. We also reached the final of the competition.
“You won election as President at a time this team were winning the African Youth Championship. And we now wish to win the World Cup for you as the president of our dear country.”
Both players and officials were equally confident of the ultimate victory in Colombia, while also appreciating the support of Nigeria’s number one football fan.
Central defender Kenneth Omeruo told Mr President: “We appreciate your support sir and we promise by the grace of God, we will not let you and the country down because we will bring home the trophy.”
“We are in Colombia to make every Nigerian proud,” said Olanrewaju Kayode, who has fired three goals thus far.
“Thank you Mr. President for your total and unflinching support. We will continue to win here in Colombia for Nigeria,” added striker Uche Nwofor, who scored twice as a second-half substitute against Croatia.
The English took their loss in their strides.
Goalkeeper trainer Martin Thomas was far from despondent after they exited the competition as he says the future is very bright for some of the youngsters who grabbed the chance when the EPL clubs held back the likes of Jack Wilshere of Arsenal.
One lad to look out for is man-mountain goalkeeper Butland, who should soon make his league debut in the championship with relegated Birmingham City.
Butland senior, his mum and younger brother, sporting ‘Butland 1’ jerseys, sat next to Nigerian officials during the game and even though England fell by an Edafe Egbedi goal, they were most certainly proud of a couple of fine saves their 1.96metres tall boy pulled off.
Both gladiators for Sunday’s quarterfinal showdown, Nigeria and France, arrived Thursday afternoon in Cali.
The Flying Eagles were first to arrive by bus from Armenia, where they defeated England 1-0 to reach the last eight of the competition in Colombia.
It was a three-hour journey for the African champions.
France, who are the reigning European champions, flew in from Cartagena where they pipped Ecuador also 1-0 in a second round fixture.
Both teams are staying at Cali’s top hotel, the Intercontinental Hotel, on Avenida Colombia.
Nigeria coach John Obuh, sporting his Colombian straw hat, Sombrero Vueltiano, which has become the talk of several social networking sites, was clustered by reporters on arrival.
The teams will face off Sunday afternoon 3pm Colombian time, which is 9pm Nigerian time, to decide who moves into the last four of the biennial tournament.
This will be the first meeting of the two teams at this level of international football.
The Junior Eagles trained for the first time in Cali Friday afternoon at the home ground of one of the city’s top clubs Deportivo Cali.