Sports analysts and stakeholders in the sector believe that 2016 has been a monumental failure in the history of Nigerian sports, but the country’s Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, thinks otherwise. In Fact, Dalung claims the outgoing year recorded significant achievements, assuring that things will get better in 2017.
Nigeria could not qualify for the 2017 African Nations Cup, lost the bid to defend its African and FIFA U-17 World Cup titles and also could not make it to the African U-20 Football Championship.
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Nigeria could only get one bronze medal courtesy of the men’s football team, all the other teams, including athletics, boxing and wrestling did not get to the semifinals of their events. But the senior national football team, Super Eagles, have recovered somehow and are now in the process of qualifying for the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Dalung said the repositioning of sports in 2017 will start with the election of new helmsmen and women with proven love and passion for the different sports to run the federations in 2017 and assured of government non-interference in the process.
He picked the performance of Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, table tennis’ efforts at the Rio Olympics, the bronze medal won by football, and the improvement in the international ranking of the basketball team following their showing at the Olympics, to buttress his point.
The Minister, who praised the success recorded by the Super Eagles in their effort to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup, observed that Nigeria’s victory over Zambia in Ndola was in itself a record. He posited that the Super Falcons are also poised to reinforce Nigeria’s position as the powerhouse of female soccer in Africa.
The minister assured that he was on the same page with the NFF in their determination to secure qualification for the next World Cup and assured that everything necessary was being done to realise that objective.
He assured that with prospect of improved funding in the 2017 budget, Nigeria would do better next year.