Solomon Dalung, Nigeria’s minister of youth and sports, has apologised to players and officials of the country’s Olympic football team, Dream Team VI, for the circumstances that led to the team’s late arrival in Brazil.
Dalung, who watched from the stands as the 1996 champions pipped Europe’s best team, Sweden, in Manaus on Monday, August 8, 2016, to reach the tournament quarterfinals with a game to spare, tendered his apology in the dressing room after the game at the Arena Amazonia.
After hugging and exchanging pleasantries with players and officials, Dalung said: “I want to apologise for all the circumstances that led to your late arrival here.
“I apologise because I am the head and as such I must take responsibility for anything that happen under my watch.
“I am happy you all have put the unfortunate incident behind you and have shown that you are true heroes by making the country proud with your qualification for the quarterfinals.
“This qualification is unique as you guys are the first team to do so in the football event. I want to assure you that we appreciate your efforts, and I want to say that it’s when a man faces challenges that his true ability is tested.
“I am sure we all have learnt our lessons and will take the lessons to heart going forward.”
Dalung recalled that the team faced similar challenges on the way to winning the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal last year, which served as the qualifier for the Olympics.
the minister then assured the players and officials that all bonuses and allowances due to them will be paid.
In his response, the captain of the team, John Obi Mikel, assured Dalung that the team will not lose focus, adding that their target is to win the gold medal.
The sports minister was in company of Adamu Emozozo, Nigerian ambassador to Brazil, and Chinyeaka Ohaa, permanent secretary, Ministry of Sports.