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AFCON: Nigeria’s performance was built on collective efforts – FG

"The success we witnessed at the 2023 AFCON was a result of a combination of factors: first, the leadership of the country. Mr. President demonstrated commitment by approving a significant amount for the payment of the outstanding debt he inherited to the members of the national team"

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The Minister of Sports Development, Sen. John Owan Enoh, has attributed Nigeria’s commendable performance at the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), held in Côte d’Ivoire, to the collective efforts and determination of all stakeholders in Nigerian football.

In a statement emailed to Persecondnews on Saturday, Ms. Diana-Mary Nsan, the Special Assistant on Media, the minister said there is still significant work ahead for the ministry and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to elevate Nigerian football to its rightful place on the continent and globally.

Enoh underscored the importance of developing local football, particularly focusing on enhancing the Nigerian league.

He also stressed the need for increased funding as a crucial factor in the overall development of sports.

He said: “The success we witnessed at the 2023 AFCON was a result of a combination of factors: first, the leadership of the country. Mr. President demonstrated commitment by approving a significant amount for the payment of outstanding debt he inherited to the members of the national team.

“That gave me the first signal that all was going to be well at the AFCON. A lot of other factors from the Ministry’s operations, the NFF, and the support of Nigerians also played a role in our run at the AFCON.”

Enoh urged the team and the federation to keep the momentum going by qualifying for the next continental championship in Morocco in 2025 and picking the ticket for the next World Cup.

Enoh added: “We have a challenge to qualify for the next AFCON and also the 2026 World Cup, but I think we also need to get back and sort out other issues.

“For example, we want to ensure we have our coaching area sorted out and also get back to that point in the history of our sports and football, where foreign-based players compete for jerseys with the local-based players.

“That means looking inward at our local football to improve its competitiveness and technical levels, even in coaching.

“The unfortunate recent issue with the DTigers of Nigeria again exposes the underbelly that belies Nigerian sports.

“Funding has remained a challenge over the years. Now we have the National Sports Industry Policy which is galvanizing us to think of sports as business and not leisure.

“We must find a way to attract the private sector and corporate organizations to be interested in sports.

“Thus, we must address the fundamentals of our sports, as well as the administration, because the government cannot do it all alone.”

The minister also said: “We are looking at some partnerships and what other countries are doing. There is the popular example of the Sports Lottery Trust Fund in Great Britain and other countries.

“We are looking at the lottery trust fund in Nigeria and how it works around the parameter of sports funding.

“The Ministry is coming up with funding models that will make our sports funding more sustainable.”

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