Despite losing their opening game against Croatia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Super Eagles will be paid full group stage benefits if they are able to grab minimum qualification points from Iceland and Argentina clashes to advance to the round of 16.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) made this known to a gathering of the cream of Nigeria’s media representatives in Saint Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday.
The national team were beaten 2-0 by Croatia in Kaliningrad, and face early exit from the World Cup if they fail to win their next game against Iceland on Friday.
In their bid to motivate the team ahead of the match billed to hold at the Volgograd Stadium, the NFF offered the full pay incentive to the players.
“I can confirm to you that the team is not lacking motivation in any way,” Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, first Vice President of the NFF said.
“Our agreement with them was that they would get their entire money for the group phase once they qualify; it is not a match-by-match basis. So, they are aware that if they win the remaining matches or just achieve the minimum to qualify from the group, they will still earn the money for all three matches.”
Akinwunmi reiterated that the football body was, like other Nigerians, not happy about the loss to Croatia last weekend, but they look forward to having a great outing in the second match.
“Like all Nigerians back home, and like the team itself, the NFF was not happy with the loss to Croatia. But the Eagles have climbed that cloud now and ready to conquer. They have put behind them the defeat and looking ahead with determination to the remaining two games.”
He added: “We cannot fully express our appreciation to the Sports Minister [Barr. Solomon Dalung], who has called on Nigerians to keep supporting the team and personally expressed belief in the team’s ability to reach the knockout rounds. We still have him with us here in Russia and he will lead the delegation to the match against Iceland in Volgograd.
“The Sports Minister led a Federal Government to Russia and led the delegation to Kaliningrad for the first match. Alongside, the Nigeria Ambassador, Professor Steve Davies Ugbah, he called President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to talk to the team before the match. Government support is total for the team, and motivation is huge, so they have no reason not to go all out on Friday.”
As it stands, Croatia sit at the top of Group D with three points, followed by Argentina and Iceland with one point each. The Eagles occupy the bottom, and must avoid defeat in their next game.
They face Iceland this Friday.
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