Nigeria’s squad (back L-R) defender Kenneth Omeruo, defender Elderson Uwa Echiejile, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Leon Balogun, defender William Troost-Ekong, midfielder John Obi Mikel, (L-R) midfielder Victor Moses, midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, forward Oghenekaro Etebo, forward Alex Iwobi and forward Kelechi Iheanacho pose for a group picture ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup African zone group B qualifying football match between Nigeria and Algeria at the Akwa Ibom State Stadium in Uyo on November 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, believes Nigeria has all it takes to not only qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup, but also be among the top contenders in FIFA’s biggest event. But that can only happen when all the stakeholders come together to help the Super Eagles achieve their potential.
Nigeria is currently at the top of Group B of the qualifying series with six points, four ahead of second-placed Cameroun after two matches.
The minister, who spoke in Lagos on Sunday, said the Super Eagles made a huge statement by defeating Zambia in Ndola in their first match and underlined their readiness to pick the sole ticket from the group with a resounding 3-1 win over Algeria in Uyo.
Thrilled by the progress of the team in the qualifying series, Dalung said Nigeria can win the race to Russia and go further than the second round in Russia.
“I am convinced that our performance in the qualifying series will not only earn us the ticket to the World Cup, but take us far in the competition proper.
“We have not been playing only for qualification but doing everything possible to make sure we go far in Russia. We want to see how we can help this team achieve its aim, we are doing a lot of strategic things to realise this dream and what is required more is for Nigerians to support this team,” he said.
The minister refuted the report that he said Nigeria had no business attempting to qualify for the World Cup, saying that he is solidly behind the Eagles making it to Russia.
“I think the content of the interview was taken out of context. I granted the interview four months ago where I was reacting to the prospect of African nations in global administration as to where we stand
“For the first time Nigeria defeated Zambia at their backyard, and if anyone is to be fair to Dalung, you can’t question our commitment and support to this team but I know many people have been misinformed by the narratives that was given, I want to tell them that this is not what we said and it is important we all come together in the interest of Nigerian sport,” he said.