Jonathan approves 200 fans for Addis Ababa

Nigeria’s campaign to grab the ticket to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next year received a major boost Monday with President Goodluck Jonathan’s approval for 200 football fans to cheer the Super Eagles to victory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday.
Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Gbenga Elegbeleye yesterday confirmed the Presidential gesture.
“I can confirm to you that President Goodluck Jonathan has graciously approved that 200 Nigeria supporters be airlifted to go cheer the Super Eagles to Victory in Addis Ababa this weekend,” he announced.
“The Presidential gesture is a signal of the importance Mr. President places on the World Cup qualifier. And even though some would say it’s not a do or die affair, with this gesture from Mr President we must get a result for our country.
“We have confidence in the ability of the Eagles. We know it would not be an easy game, but we must grind out a result in Addis Ababa and then finish the game in Calabar because we need to be at the World Cup as African champions.”
With this development, it is now confirmed that two charted flights will be heading to Ethiopia on Saturday.
But while there is joy in Eagles camp over the presidential gesture, the Walya Antelopes are sad because of the bonus their football federation is offering for them to beat Nigeria on Sunday.
Although details of the exact bonus the Antelopes are being offered remain unknown, several of the players insist they deserve more.
“We deserve better than what the government has promised us. It seems we are not appreciated by our government,” said one of the disgruntled players.
For the 2013 AFCON in South Africa, the players were reportedly supported by the country’s richest man, Mohammed Al Amoudi.
This comes at a time when the Walya Antelopes are sweating on the fitness of their star striker Getaneh Kebede.
Kebede, who has formed a superb strike force with Saladin Said, is nursing an ankle injury and was rested by his South African club Bidvest Wits this past weekend.
He is therefore a major doubt for Sunday’s showdown.
However, team spirit must have been lifted with the arrival of three of the country’s foreign-based stars.
Addis Hintsa from Al Ahly Shendi in Sudan, Shemeles Bekele of Al Ittihad of Libya and Asrat Mergasa, who is based in Israel, has also joined up with the rest of the squad.