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Nigerian president praises U-23 soccer team in Olympiad
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16:02, August 20, 2008

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has commended the U-23 team for the victory over Belgium in the semifinal of the Beijing Olympcs men's football event.

Nigeria beat Belgium 4-1 in Shanghai on Tuesday to qualify for Saturday's final against Argentina. Yar'Adua urged the team to win the gold medal, as the Presidential Villa erupted in celebrations after the victory over Belgium.

Although Yar'Adua was not able to watch the match as he was busy with the signing of an energy partnership agreement with German officials while the game was on, he was informed of the outcome by his spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi just as the final whistle sounded.

Yar'Adua, who was in company with the Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, said the team would return with gold as a gift for him.

"The President was very excited. He loves football and watches Nigeria's matches but he could not watch today's match because of an official engagement," Adeniyi said.

President of the Senate David Mark said in a goodwill message to the team on Tuesday, "The Nigerian spirit has come alive again."

He said the victory over Belgium had given the country hope and an assurance that Nigeria could repeat the 1996 Olympic feat.

He urged the officials to review the previous games in order to correct whatever lapses were identified ahead of the final.

Mark told the Nigerian contingent to remain steadfast and resolute in their determination to win the competition.


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