Nigerian president gifts land and flats to defeated football side

rugby13 February 2024 16:22| © AFP
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Nigeria team © BackpagePix

Nigeria's president awarded the national football team honours, plots of land and flats on Tuesday for reaching the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles lost 2-1 to hosts Ivory Coast in Abidjan on Sunday, but President Bola Ahmed Tinubu said he was proud of the side's resilience.

Each player in the national squad received the Member of the Order of the Niger, one of the country's highest honours, as well as a flat and a piece of land in the region around the capital.

Tinubu welcomed the returning team at the presidential villa in Abuja, saying he was proud of the side – even if it was tough to stomach the defeat.

"Let this passing event not dispirit us but bring us together to work harder," he said.

"To those cherished Nigerian youths expressing their gifts in communities, drawing lines in the sand as they play football in their humble rectangles of play, you can be our heroes tomorrow, do not relent in your pursuit.

"My administration is here to make dreams come true," he said.

Since coming to office last year, Tinubu has ended a fuel subsidy and currency controls, leading to a tripling of petrol prices and a spike in living costs as the naira slides sharply against the dollar.

Many Nigerians had hoped victory would bring some much-needed cheer as they struggle under the economic crisis.

There was so much excitement in the run-up to the match that the health ministry in Lagos issued advice to fans, warning them to "stay calm", take breaks, keep hydrated and "be prepared for emergencies".