President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ibrahim Gusau, has commended Rivers United for standing strong to emerge as the only Nigerian team left in continental club competitions after a midweek of action across Africa.
Gusau was reacting to a number of matches by Nigerian teams including the Super Eagles Team B across the world on Wednesday.
The Pride of Rivers dug their feet into the turf of the Benina Martys Stadium in Benghazi, Libya to earn a 1-1 draw with Al Naser FC and qualified for the CAF Confederation Cup group stage on a 6-1 aggregate. Their feat came hours after another Nigerian flagbearer Plateau United imploded in a rather poor final four minutes to lose 0-3 to Al Akhdar FC on the same turf, wiping out their three-goal advantage from the first leg.
But in a message to Rivers United, the NFF chief hailed their resilience, describing the win as a “credible outing”.
“On behalf of the NFF Board and the generality of Nigeria Football stakeholders, I congratulate Rivers United on their credible outing and I wish them success in the group stage. They did well to sustain the Nigeria flag in the competition,” he said in a statement issued Thursday.
He also hailed Bayelsa Queens who lost to AS FAR in the semi-final of the CAF Women’s Champions League, ending their dreams of clinching the diadem.
“I was hoping they would reach the final so that we would go and support them but they were not disgraced all the same,” Gusau said about the Prosperity Girls who became the first Nigerian club to reach the last four of the competition.
“They should take the lessons from the defeat to do better next time. They should also fight hard for the bronze medals in order not to come back home empty-handed.
“As I have reiterated several times, the new NFF Board will provide tremendous encouragement for Nigeria women’s football to return strongly to its rightful place on the African continent and at the global level.”
While reacting to the Super Eagles’ 2-0 defeat against World Cup-bound Costa Rica in San Jose in the early hours of Wednesday, Gusau challenged the coaching crew and the players to take hard lessons from the loss and commit to returning to winning ways henceforth.
“Costa Rica are heading to the World Cup and were highly spurred on by their fans, but then we are Nigeria and we should always have it in mind that our people want us to win all the time. I am not saying they did not give a good performance; they should know that winning matters,” he added.
“The new NFF Board will be concerned with players that dorn our green-and-white going out for wins, whether they play in competitive or friendly matches. It is not enough to try or to make an effort; a winning mentality is key. They tried their best in the game but they should learn from this and know that next time, they have to go all out to win or avoid defeat.”