John Mikel Obi steps in to support Nigeria’s amputee team
Super Eagles’ captain promised to donate money to the Nigeria Amputee Football team, who cash-strapped ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi has promised financial support to the country’s cash-strapped amputee football team, who have been soliciting money for what could be their first World Cup campaign.
Due to a lack of finances, the team, known as the Special Eagles, has missed the last three World Cups.
With just a day to go to the kickoff of this year’s Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico, Nigeria’s representatives are in a race against time to collect the necessary funds.
Early this month, the Special Eagles had turned to a crowdfunding campaign.
Obi Mikel’s support
Both the Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, and the national football team have made significant financial contributions for the Special Eagles cause, but captain Obi Mikel has now stepped in to help.
"We've spoken to a representative of John Mikel Obi who has offered to help the team," the coordinator of the fund-raising campaign, Fred Edoreh, told BBC Sport
"His support will come as a big boost, but right now the dilemma is to find the flights to get the squad to Mexico. Time is running out on us and with ticket costs increasing by the day towards our opening game against our budget, we are taking the hard decisions of sending the first team as first batch.
"This is to avoid heavier cost and also get the boys to settle down before the game against Brazil on Sunday. The first batch (eight players and coach) should have left today but there were not enough seats on the last lap of the journey, from Mexico City to Guadalajara.
"Our travel agents are working hard to secure space for them by tomorrow. So they are expected to depart Lagos by 12 noon with Ethiopia Airlines. This will help us to secure our presence and avoid a global sanction. Hoping with additional funds, the reserve team can depart on Thursday or Friday," Edoreh said.
Time running out
For their first World Cup game, Nigeria are due to face Brazil on Sunday 28 October.
The fund-rasing campaign is still ongoing to ensure that all the players and coaches make it to Mexico before the team’s opening match.