Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President George Weah of Liberia, has said early preparation, conducive camp environment and prompt payment of incentives, are some of the elements that will spur the Super Eagles, to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
President Weah, the only African player to win the Ballon d’Or and Liberia’s 25th President, was answering questions from State House Correspondents, in Abuja, after his state visit to Nigeria.
The Liberian President, who had earlier held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and few members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), noted that qualifying for the World Cup was no mean feat. Hencem, the officials must make sure the players have no excuse to fail.
He commended President Buhari for giving the team the support agonist the backdrop that African governments complain of funds when it comes to sports.
President Weah, when asked to give out tips that could aid the Nigerian team brings back the trophy, said, “I must first say, Your Excellency, thank you very much because is not an easy task to qualify for World Cup. Because every government in Africa complains when it comes to sports.
“I was amazed the other day sitting before President Emmanuel Macron when he talked about his sports agenda because he believes you can build capacity through sports, and through sports you can also encourage people to work, to do what they want to do.
“I have been fighting for so long for my national team to qualify. Imagine, I’m the world best here in Africa, the only world best. And I said to President Macron, that FIFA built one stadium in Liberia and we have one Ballon d’Or, so if you build 10 stadia in Liberia, you will have 10 Ballon d’Or.
“I think Nigerian team is a model; we all followed them. I have played with great Nigerian players, I played against them. Now you have a new generation, the fact that they qualified is a good thing for Nigeria.
“But I hope that they will prepare very early because they are going to represent Africa and we will be there to watch them, for them to bring the trophy for the first time if it is possible. “But I think the seriousness to go to l World Cup is not to pay players to go. I want every African government to know that if you win World Cup, it is a pride to Africa is not just to Nigeria. So, we must do everything to ensure that the players are not stressed, make sure they concentrate, make sure their incentives are given to them to motivate them.
“Some of the things you see at the World Cup, you will see an entire team go to represent a whole country and you will hear that one ministers took their money. They did not pay these players and the players are causing problems.
“When players are going to camp it is to relax and focus. And for them to be in camp they must have everything there for them not to worry.
“Remember I played in European setting, when we go to camp we have nothing to do. The only thing we have to do is to take a shower and prepare for the game, everything is laid down there and so you have no excuse.
“So let the players not have excuse, support them and let them go and bring back that cup.”
The Liberian president also spoke on plans to revamp sports in his country, saying already the World Bank had agreed to give the Liberian Government $5 million to revamp the sports sector.
According to him, “As a former coach, technical director and former sponsor of the national team, you know is not only football. When Liberia goes to represent us at the Olympics, we only see the officials drilling with our flags, we don’t see no athletes.
“This year, we have made sure that in all of our sports we will have someone to represent us and I will be there to monitor them. That is why we put a former player as the sports minister that I will work with to revamp Liberia National Team and I know he will do his best.
“And those techniques that made Liberia qualify twice and missed the World Cup three times, I will make sure that I work with him so that he can do the work and ensure that our athletes go and represent our country.”