President Bola Tinubu has praised the Super Eagles for their display in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final in Ivory Coast, saying they won people’s hearts.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, on Sunday.
Three-time African champions, the Super Eagles failed in their bid to win a fourth title after suffering a 2-1 defeat against host Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final played Sunday night at the Alassane Quattra Stadium in Ebimpe.
Ivory Coast’s success sees them add this year’s title to those claimed in 1992 and 2015, while this win also allows them to join Nigeria on three Cup of Nations triumphs overall.
Only Egypt, Cameroon and Ghana have won the title more often, with the Super Eagles squandering the opportunity to match their Ghanaian rivals on four victories.
Reacting after the match, President Tinubu said despite the Eagles’ loss to the host nation, they demonstrated resilience and talent at the tournament.
Tinubu added that Nigeria has won a great victory in the heart of Africa and the world at large.
The statement read, “President Bola Tinubu salutes the Super Eagles of Nigeria for their tenacious performance in the final of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire.
“President Tinubu commends the team, the coach, the crew, and the entire management team for their hard work, assiduity, and sacrifice to come this far in the tournament, acknowledging the hurdles they consistently surpassed with steadily improving performance as they pulled through to the finals.”
“The President urges Nigerians to be of good cheer, emphasizing that we won a great victory in the hearts of Africa and the world by our grit, rigour, and determination in the field of play.”
The president, however, urged Nigerians not to be demoralised, saying, “Let this passing event not dispirit us, but bring us together to work harder. We are a great nation bound as one by the green-white-green banner of resilience, joy, hope, duty, and untiring love.
“To those cherished Nigerian youths expressing their gifts in communities, drawing lines in the sand as they play football in their humble rectangles of play, you can be our heroes tomorrow, do not relent in your pursuit. My administration is here to make dreams come true.”
Meanwhile, the Vice President Kashim Shettima, who watched watched the game live at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Ebimpe, Abidjan, stated that the players will be rewarded for their gallant effort in the game.
“We have tried our best and be rest assured that there is always the next time. You must have it in mind that the tragedy of life lies in not reaching your goal but the tragedy lies in not having a goal to reach,” the country’s number two citizen stated while addressing the players and their officials after the game. It is not a calamity to die with a dream, but it is a calamity when you don’t have a dream at all.
“A lot of countries, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and others exited the competition, two, three weeks ago.
“We have come this far, be rest assured that we will come back stronger in the next edition. There is cause for celebration. We are second best in Africa.
“You don’t have to be sad. We have every reason to celebrate. The nation is proud of you. You are the source of our unity. It is only when the Super Eagles are playing that we don’t talk about race or religion. You always unite the nation.
“The nation is in grief, but the nation is in solidarity with you. Be rest assured that your name will be written in gold in the history of football in Nigeria.
“I convey to you, the wish and regards from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. There is no need for you to be sad. On Wednesday, we were celebrating and we came so close today. We lost the game within just 15 minutes.
“That’s what football is all about. We must understand that whichever way the pendulum swings, the trophy is still for Africa. It is the Africa Cup of unity and it came to West Africa.
“There is every cause for us to celebrate and rejoice. There is every cause for us to unite. Look at our mistakes and correct them in the next edition.
“Honestly, we are very proud of you and the nation will adequately compensate you for your sacrifice. You came close, there is no cause for you to be remorseful or sad. There is no reason for us to be sad or remorseful.”