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2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier: NFF salutes Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Bayelsa, Ondo governors

The Nigeria Football Federation has expressed deep appreciation to the Government and good people of Akwa Ibom State for their support, hospitality and magnanimity before, during and after Friday’s FIFA World Cup qualifying match between the Super Eagles and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.

President of the NFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau stated that the football-governing body and the Nigeria Football fraternity remain grateful to Governor (Pastor) Umo Eno and other eminent personalities in his administration who worked tirelessly behind the scene and showed up at the Nest of Champions to inspire the three-time African champions in the crucial game.

“First and foremost, I want to specially give kudos to the Akwa Ibom State Government for their hospitality and magnanimity, and for all the efforts and resources deployed to host a successful match. Governor Umo Eno, like his predecessors, has continued to be a pillar of the Super Eagles especially for their home matches. We cannot appreciate him enough.

“We also appreciate the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator (Dr) Akon Eyakenyi for her physical presence at the stadium to cheer the Eagles during the game,” he said.

Gusau recalled that Friday’s encounter was the 11th match the Super Eagles would play at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, with only one loss in those matches. “We must underscore the fact that Uyo, and Akwa Ibom State in general, is a favourable ground for the Super Eagles.

“The result may not have been what we wanted, but we are confident that the Super Eagles and their coaches have learnt a lot of lessons from the game and will put these to good use in subsequent games, in order to earn the World Cup ticket.”

Also, the country’s football body has also hailed the Executive Governors of Lagos, Bayelsa and Ondo States who turned up physically at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Friday to support the Super Eagles.

“Our deep appreciation goes to Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Douye Diri of Bayelsa State and Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State who were also physically present at the match venue.

“We remain grateful to them for creating time out of their very busy schedules to turn up at the stadium to cheer the Super Eagles. Their commitment shows how much good and great Nigerians love the game of football and particularly their National Teams, and we believe the Super Eagles will continue to make the nation proud on the playing turf.”

Gusau will, on Sunday, lead the Nigeria delegation to Abidjan for the Day 4 encounter of the FIFA World Cup qualifying series, pitching the Super Eagles against the Cheetahs of Benin Republic. That match will take place at the familiar surroundings of the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny – where the Super Eagles won three matches at the AFCON earlier this year – on Monday evening.

On Friday, South Africa took the lead on the half-hour when Themba Zwane teased the Nigerian rearguard before slamming past goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali. It was indeed a game of two halves as Bafana Bafana dominated the first half, while the Super Eagles were very dominant in the second period, starting with Fisayo Dele-Bashiru’s memorable equalizer a minute after the restart, before a rash of opportunities that could easily have won them the three points.