Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has apologised to players and officials of the country’s Olympic football team for the circumstances that led to the contingent’s late arrival in Brazil for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, Rio 2016.
Dalung, a conspicuous presence in the stands as the 1996 champions pipped Europe’s best team, Sweden in Manaus on Sunday night to reach the tournament quarter –finals with a game to spare, tendered his apology in the dressing room after the game.
After hugging and exchanging pleasantries with players and officials, Dalung said: “I want to apologise for all the circumstances that led to your late arrival here. I apologise because I am the head and as such I must take responsibility for anything that happens under my watch.
“I’m happy you all have put the unfortunate incident behind you and have shown that you are true heroes by making the country proud with your qualification for the quarter finals. This qualification is unique as you guys are the first team to do so in the football event.”
Speaking further, the Sports Minister disclosed: “I want to assure you that we appreciate your efforts, and I want to say that it’s when a man faces challenges that his true ability is tested. I am sure we all have learnt our lessons and will take the lessons to heart going forward.”
Dalung then assured the players and officials that all bonuses and allowances due to them would be paid, as he recalled that the team faced similar challenges on the way to winning the Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Senegal last year, which qualified Nigeria for the Olympics.
Responding, team captain Mikel John Obi assured Dalung that the team will not lose focus as their target is to win the gold medal for Nigeria. The Sports Minister was in company with Nigeria’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Brazil, Adamu Emozozo and the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Chinyeaka Ohaa.
Nigerian Sports Award hails Dream team, Quadri
Organizer of the Nigerian Sports Award has saluted the heroics of the national U-23 team as the team progressed to the quarter-finals at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 after a 1-0 victory over Sweden in Group B, thanks to a header by Sadiq Umar at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus.
In a congratulatory message to the Dream Team and Nigeria for the recent achievement, the Executive Director of Unmissable Incentives, Kayode Idowu, hailed the team’s remarkable performances in its first two opening games which had now solidified its place in the next round and also further identified the Dream Team as one of the favourites for the competition.
He noted that this achievement would further brighten the hope which sport loving Nigerians had placed in them and the entire athletic team representing Nigeria, as they all strive for gold in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Furthermore, Kayode Idowu also seized the moment to congratulate Nigerian table tennis star player and two-time winner of the Prestigious Nigerian Sports Award, Aruna Quadri on his recent 4-1 victory against Slovakia’s Yang Wang in the table tennis event held on Sunday.
Idowu afterward used the medium to restate the commencement of nominations for the 2016 edition of the Nigerian Sports Award. “The Rio Olympics competition has also provided another platform through which Nigerians can evaluate the performances of all the participants and nominate them for the upcoming Nigerian Sports Award.”
NOC President orders full payment of allowances, bonuses to Team Nigeria
Buoyed by the impressive performances of Team Nigerian athletes at the Rio Olympics, President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, Habu Gumel has ordered for the release of allowances and bonuses to the athletes.
‘’We want these athletes to concentrate and not allow any thing distract them’’, Gumel said yesterday when he called at the Games Village. All their monies should be paid to them in full. We don’t want any distraction. It is their money and it has been released,” he said.
The announcement no doubt, would calm frayed nerves and dismiss rumours that the athletes were only going to receive part payments. ‘’It is their money and it has been released. We want total concentration of the athletes in their quest for medals for the country’’, Gumel said yesterday.
The IOC member said officials of Team Nigeria were working together to ensure that the athletes come out with descent performances in their various disciplines.