The Nigerian government has budgeted the sum of N3bn to enable the Super Eagles have a successful outing at the 2018 World Cup 2018 due to start on June 14 in Russia. Part of the funds would be needed for the players’ training ahead of the mundial.
Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, made this known to State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
He disclosed that the budget for the competition had been sent to the President for a special intervention, assuring that his ministry would ensure that the government makes the money available.
The minister said a substantial part of the “conservative budget” would be provided by the Federal Government, while sponsors and partners, including FIFA, would raise part of the money.
“We have a conservative budget of about N3bn but out of that N3bn, FIFA is going to raise about N900m; our sponsors and partners are also going to bring about N600m. Government will conservatively raise about N2bn or N2.5bn to complement,” he said.
On the level of preparation, he stated that: “After the groupings, Nigeria falls within Group D and we appear to be the underdog going by the ranking of the teams. But I think ranking is more or less a paper job, what is very important is how you will perform and I believe that we are comfortable with the team because having tested Argentina which is highly ranked team in the group, we can say confidently that with good work, good training, good welfare for the players and team spirit, we will top that group going by the disposition of our national team.
“Some people had been arguing that Argentina did not present their best, but we also have some players we didn’t invite and we also intend to invite them. It is an issue that is going to be determined practically by the level of preparation of the Nigerian team. Don’t forget that the Nigerian team had enjoyed a formidable home support and they are inspired to deliver. So we will engage in more friendlies to try, determine our strength and areas of improvement before the final competition.”
Asked if there is any target for the team, the minister said: “Well, for now, target remains within our strategy.”
While stating that plans are underway to make sure the players get their allowances upfront latest by March 2018, he noted, “one of the challenges we have been facing in sports administration is the welfare of the players and the officiating team and we intend to set a new approach to the question of welfare.
“By March, we intend to start paying the players their allowances, camping allowances upfront. That will go a long way to boost the morale of the players and their confidence too.
“The new method of governance in football has taken the pattern of change. We will also ensure that there is unity within the football family.
“Unity, too, is a key factor going by some of the reports we had in the past where poor performances were attributable to lack of unity between the family, the technical team, the officials and the players. This time, unity has to be promoted.
“Finally, we will also ensure that government makes funds available on time. That is why the budget for the competition has since been sent to the President for a special intervention so that government can make provision for some of the funds we need for training now before other things can come up,” he explained.
The minister assured that the government would mobilise a strong delegation that will support the team because of its belief that sports is an about number.
“This time, we also intend to mobilize a very strong federal government delegation that will support the team because sports is also about number. The number of people you have on ground can also give support to the players and intimidate.
“So, we intend to go with at least a good size of the federal government delegation to give the team support. We intend to make it more inclusive so that Nigerians will participate in this particular victory which Nigeria is going.”