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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Flying Eagles' exploits rewarded
Nigeria's Flying Eagles
Nigeria rewarded its under-20 side for reaching the World Youth Championship final with cash bonuses on Wednesday.

The Flying Eagles took on Argentina in Sunday's final in the Dutch city Utrecht but were beaten 2-1.

Nigeria, which last week won international debt relief after pleading extreme poverty, lavished US$112,000 in bonuses on the squad.

The country's Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said each player would receive 500,000 naira (US$3,733).

"It's just a mark of appreciation from the good people of Nigeria," said Atiku at a welcoming ceremony in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

It is the second time many members of the under-20 squad have recieved cash bonuses from the Nigerian government, after the players were so rewarded for becoming African champions in Benin in January.

Nigeria's dramatic championship campaign inspired a renewed wave of passion among the west African giants' committed fans, but the euphoria turned to agony when Argentina won the match.

Atiku told the players that both he and President Olusegun Obasanjo - who was absent in London at the G8 Business Conference - shared the view of most Nigerians that the referee had cost them victory through unfair decisions.

The money given to each teenage squad member represents more than 10 years' income for the majority of Nigeria's 130 million people, around three-quarters of whom live in challenging conditions.

Obsanjo made great play of this poverty in his campaign to persuade the rich nations meeting this week at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, to forgive Nigeria's 30 billion dollar external debt, which bore fruit last week.

Nigeria fall at final hurdle
02 Jul 05 |  African


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