Nigeria is through to the final of the ongoing Amputee Football Nations Cup ongoing in Angola.
The Special Eagles, as the country’s Amputee Football team are fondly referred to, beat Tanzania 3-2 on Thursday to seal their place in the final.
Goals from Kelvin Kingsley, Oyeleke Sarafadeen and Grema Mohammed has now taken Nigeria closer to winning the continental title again.
The Nigeria Amputee football team are returning to the Nations Cup after a nine-year absence principally occasioned by lack of adequate funding.
Though the team was able to make it to Angola this time, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the players and officials never had it easy.
The unpleasant development forced the delegation to send a Save Our Soul message to President Muhammadu Buhari towards alleviating their poor condition into the tournament.
Speaking on arrival in Angola last week, President of the Nigeria Amputee Football Federation, Suleiman Isah, said while they are still expecting the ministry of sports to approve some support for them, and “they would appreciate any other forms of interventions even from the Presidency”.
He said: “It is tough for us but we needed to make this trip to keep hope alive for the amputees who have decided to counter their physical disability by engaging respectably in sports. They have been absent from the Africa Nations Cup for nine years because there was no funding support. It will devastate the boys badly if they missed this edition again.
“Unfortunately, the only support we got was from the NFF and it is not enough to cover the cost of flight tickets even as we dropped some players. We got tickets on credit just as we also procured jerseys, tracksuits, boots and other equipment on credit. Worse is that we don’t even have a dime to give to the players as allowances both at the competition and on return.
“We are hoping that the sports ministry will approve some aid for us but we are not certain. Under the circumstance, we wish to respectfully appeal to our deer President to intervene to bail us out even if only to provide for the flight ticket,” he appealed.
The Special Eagles also braved the odds to make it to the World Cup in Mexico last year after a fund campaign was raised for the team.
The team will face either Angola or Liberia in the final of the Nations Cup.
While Angola are the reigning world champions, Liberia are the defending African champions.