AFCON 2021: Dare wants Eagles lift title

Super Eagles star, Alex Iwobi against Cape Verde player during a World Cup qualifier in Lagos, Nigeria

Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, is hopeful the Super Eagles can perform well in Cameroon next year and possibly win the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title for the fourth time.

“I have created the mental picture of this golden (AFCON) trophy in my head and I will use it as a prayer point every morning,” Dare told the journalists and officials of TotalEnergies, AFCON sponsors, at a press conference to herald the three day trophy tour of Lagos, Nigeria on Monday.

Dare pointed out that the local content of Nigerian football needs to improve if the country wants to compete favourably at the global stage.

“We have to do more for the local ecosystem of our game. We have to be deliberate with talent discovery, nurturing of the talents discovered and managing them to get to the top of the ladder in their careers and stay there till they retire.

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“We have countless examples of how we got this system working in the past. We must do it again. There must be consistent focus on the grassroots, school sports, provision of facilities, equipment and training gears. Competitions organised will also toughen and sharpen the talents,” he said.

“Look at Henry Nwosu, the 18-year-old school boy who made the Green Eagles squad to the 1980 AFCON.

“Look also at ‘chairman’ Christian Chukwu, Kadiri Ikhana who became accomplished coaches after their 1980 exploits.

“We can also speak about Stephen Keshi (of blessed memory)and what he achieved as a coach and a player, others like Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia and Sunday Oliseh have all coached the Super Eagles and made their marks on the game.

“Clearly we have enough talents here, we just need to put in the hardwork to discover them.

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“Let our former football stars and sports icons who have done Nigeria proud and who understand the DNA of Nigerian football be given the opportunity to help build a team. From the history of Nigeria’s performance at the AFCON, we have seen the impactful roles of indigenous handlers and former stars.”

Dare commended the Confederation of African Football(CAF) for organising a competition for schools sponsored by the foundation of the CAF president, Dr Patrice Motsepe, while congratulating them on the successful organisation of the just concluded CAF Champions League competition for women football clubs.