From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
EX-SUPER Eagles winger, Tijani Babagida, has tipped the current senior national team for glory in this year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) holding in Egypt from June 21.
Babagida, who is the President of the National Association of Nigerian Profession Footballers (NANPF) said this, yesterday, at the second memorial lecture in honour of late Eagles captain and coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Keshi won the nations’ cup in Tunisia in 1994 as captain of the senior national team, and repeated the feat in 2013 in South Africa as coach of the team, becoming the second African to have won the prestigious laurel as captain and coach.
Represented by the General Secretary of NANPF, Austin Popo, Babagida said the spirit of Keshi is still alive, and urged the present team to tap from the late former Nigeria captain’s determination to excel at the continental soccer showpiece.
“I strongly believed the spirit of Stephen Keshi is alive, just as he won the cup with the Super Eagles in 2013, I’m more convinced that the 2019 edition will be won by the Super Eagles.
This is our wish, and this is his wish for being part of his remembrance,” he said.
He said the lecture was to celebrate and keep alive the legacies and memory of Keshi, who hailed from Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Babagida added that modalities were being out in place for the second edition of Keshi Under 17 and 21 national football tournaments, in conjunction with Football Intermediaries Association of Nigeria (FIAN).
“We are already discussing on how both bodies can make the second edition of the Stephen Keshi Under 17 and 21 national football tournaments a huge success, with the Delta State government providing the support base,” he noted.
The memorial lecture was graced by members of the current senior national team, who are in Asaba for an international friendly match against the Zimbabwe national team, in preparation for the 2019 AFCON.
The team was led to the solemn event by Head Coach, Gernot Rohr, and captain, Mikel Obi, who, in their separate remarks, promised to support the initiative of NANPF.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean national team arrived at about 11:30 a.m. yesterday, and immediately checked into a hotel, ahead of the friendly encounter billed for today by 6p.m at the Stephen Keshi Stadium. The opposition team comprised 25 players and eight officials.