President Bola Tinubu says the Super Eagles performance at the just concluded AFCON 2023 tournament has proved that our greatest strength lies in our diversity.
He added that the team demonstrated by their team spirit and discipline that diversity is principally a source of strength.
The President was speaking at a reception in honour of the players at the State House in Abuja on Tuesday.
He commended the team for their exemplary display of unity, determination, and resilience on the field.
”It is a great honour for me to receive you, our Super Eagles. As a team, you taught us lessons on resilience, togetherness, diversity, and excitement in competitive games.
”You started the tournament as if Nigeria would not assert itself, but you progressed to the finals. Through all the challenges and dealing with great humidity in the host country, you left your clubs and honoured your country. You gave us great excitement.
”You were determined. We salute your resilience. You lifted our spirits, and you made us proud. You made us smile as Nigerians.
”It is not easy to absorb a loss, particularly when the expectations are high. But you have demonstrated sportsmanship, resilience, and teamship throughout the entire tournament.
“That is what AFCON stands for, the unity and resilience of the continent. You have done a great job, and I am very proud of you,” the President said.
Tinubu pledged to continue investing in sports and youth development, adding: ”We will consult with you on how to facilitate and promote sports development.
“As your President, I will go out to attract greater private sector investment in the Nigerian Professional Football League. We have to grow our local league, and I promise to be a super promoter of sports in our country.
“Many of you may in the future become managers of our local premiership system. I want to say once again that I am proud of you, and Nigeria is proud of you. You are a lifter of spirits.”
The president conferred national honours on member of the team, which clinched the silver medal in the competition, and announced the donation of a flat and a plot of land to each of them.
He decorated each member of the team with Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) lapel pins, while the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Chief Nyesom Wike, distributed forms for the allocation of a plot of land to each of the players.
Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Enoh, applauded the President for prioritising sports development in the country and ensuring support for the team.
He lauded the defining decision of creating a separate Ministry of Sports Development.
”For the first time, we have gone through a major competition.
“We have come back without any crisis, without any complaint, without any issues whatsoever relating to allowances, bonuses, or whatever.
“This kept the team focused on the matches in front of them with quality results,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the team, Mr William Troost-Ekong, the Vice-Captain, promised to work hard to surpass their achievements by winning the gold medal in the next competition.
”We are very grateful for your support during our time in Ivory Coast. We did our best until the final. I wish that we were here carrying the trophy for you.
”In 2019, I was here with a bronze medal. Now we are here with a silver medal.
“I have two gold-medal winners beside me here and all we can promise is that we will continue to work hard, and the next time we meet, hopefully next year, we will be bringing home a gold medal,” the Vice-Captain said.