9th February, 2015
His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV, the Sultan of Sokoto, has charged the Golden Eaglets to ‘go and bring the African Under-17 Championship trophy’ as he prayed for the team’s successful outing at tournament hosted by Niger between 15 February and 1 March.
The national U-17 team who are in Sokoto to finalise their preparation for the tournament, paid a courtesy call on the titular ruler of Sokoto in his palace on Monday at the behest of Kogunan Sakwatto, Mallam Danladi Nasir Bako – the Sokoto State Commissioner for Information.
In the presence of some of his high-ranking palace chiefs, the Sultan who is a keen follower of football, advised the youngsters to be disciplined and focused on the assignment at hand in Niger in order to bring honour to the country.
“I’m very happy to receive on behalf of the hospitable people of Sokoto and I want to believe this is the first time some of you are coming to the palace,” the Sultan told his guest led by Coach Emmanuel Amuneke.
“In fact, this is the first time we are hosting a national team here at the palace and I’m particularly delighted to formally welcome all of you to the palace as this would afford you the opportunity to know that the Sultan is a human being like you.”
The Amirul Mumineen said he was thrilled that the team dimmed it fit to pay him a courtesy call and seek blessings before embarking on the trip to Niger and counselled they remained good ambassadors of the country. He further counselled officials to continue to play fatherly roles to the players who he warned ‘to obey without question.’
He said further: “We want you to be good ambassadors of this country when you go to Niger and personally, I want you to go and bring the trophy again to Nigeria. But even as you do this, you must be disciplined and listen to your coaches because without discipline you cannot achieve much even as a footballer.”
The former military officer further counselled the players never to neglect their education and never to be carried away with the stardom of being footballers.
Both Coach Amuneke and Captain Kelechi Nwakali took turn to thank the Sultan and the palace chiefs for finding time out of their busy schedule to host and offered prayers on behalf of the team, promising to do everything humanly possible and in the true spirit of sportsmanship, to conquer the continent in Niger.