Nigeria satisfied with W. Cup warm-up despite friendly loss to Atletico Madrid

Source: Xinhua| 2018-05-23 20:29:38|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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LAGOS, May 23 (Xinhua) -- The international friendly match between the Atletico Madrid and Nigeria's Super Eagles in southern oil rich city of Uyo will prepare the country to excel in the Russia 2018 World Cup, officials said here Wednesday.

The Nigerian side lost 3-2 to the 2018 Europa League Cup winners on Tuesday.

Solomon Dalung, minister of Youth and Sports Development, expressed optimism that with the required fan base and adequate preparation of the players, Nigeria would perform beyond expectations at the World Cup in Russia.

Amaju Pinnick, president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), agreed, expressing confidence in the future of the Super Eagles despite the team's defeat to Atletico Madrid.

"The result is not what mattered, what mattered was that we have been able to show the world that we have a solid youth team that is capable of taking over from the present squad going to the World Cup next month," he said.

"I am very happy because our big mission statement on assuming office was to build a sustainable football culture for Nigeria. From what we have seen, our future at the senior national team level is secured," he added.

"We are confident that...the team will do Nigeria proud in Russia," the FA boss told reporters.

Nigeria put out a collection of home and Europe-based players, most of whom had played for the junior national teams.

The game, played at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo saw the Eagles' B team putting up a strong show ingwith two superb goals in their effort, despite losing in the GoTVMax Cup.

Super Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf commended his boys for their superlative performance despite the loss.

Yusuf said although his team played very well, Atletico Madrid showed maturity and experience, adding that the two goals conceded by his team were cheap.

"We are going to develop the team to the next level. They played against the best," he added.

Nigeria, in Group D with Argentina, Iceland, and Croatia in the forthcoming World Cup in Russia, released a 30-man provisional list for the tournament last Monday, naming China-based duo of Mikel Obi and striker Odion Ighalo in its squad.

Head coach Gernot Rohr also named the local league top scorers Junior Lokosa and Simeon Nwankwo as the new faces on the list.

The team is scheduled to warm up against DR Congo on May 28, before moving out to England to take on Three Lions in Wembley Stadium on June 2 and the Czech Republic on June 6.

The next FIFA world rankings will be released on June 7, seven days ahead of the World Cup.