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Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 16:06 UK

Yar'Adua backs U17 World Cup

By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Lagos

President Umaru Yar'Adua of Nigeria
President Yar'Adua backs Nigeria to host a successful Under-17 World Cup

President Umaru Yar'Adua has promised that Nigeria will stage a successful Under-17 World Cup despite the problems with the preparations for hosting the event.

Fifa's third biggest tournament kicks off on Saturday at the National Stadium in Abuja with hosts and defending champions Nigeria facing Germany in the opening match.

The build-up to the tournament has been beset with delays and difficulties.

At one point Nigeria even formally withdrew from holding the tournament after the government said hosting the event was not a priority.

They reversed that decision after the intervention of Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

But President Yar'Adua is confident the three-week tournament will reflect the West African country's 'hospitality and passion' for the game.

"Nigerians will show to the outside world the stuff we are made of in terms of hospitality, friendship, brotherhood and our ability to make people to feel at home," he said.

"Fifa will always be tempted to be bring world competitions and tournaments to Nigeria which is a leading football nation.

"Watching it in Nigeria is a celebration so we will celebrate the opening and closing of the under-17 tournament.

"Once again let me thank Fifa for bringing this tournament to Nigeria and appeal to all Nigerians to make this tournament a memorable occasion for all of us."

Following a some recent disappointing performances by the senior team and then the Flying Eagles at the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, many in the country are predicting a tough outing for the Golden Eaglets at this event.

The president has urged the populace to turn their attention towards a successful hosting of the event instead.

"Let me call on all Nigerians to support the nation in making sure that we host a successful tournament," he urged.

"Four tournaments organised by Fifa were slated for the African continent, two have taken place, the Confederations Cup in South Africa and the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt.

"We have the under-17 tournament taking place here on our doorstep in Nigeria and next year we are going to have World Cup in South Africa.

"I call on all Nigerians, to ensure that the hosting of the tournament in Nigeria will be the best among all these four."

The host cities for the tournament are Abuja, Bauchi, Calabar, Enugu, Ijebu-Ode, Kaduna, Kano and Lagos.

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see also
Nigeria name under-17 squad
16 Oct 09 |  African
UAE slams Nigeria facilities
25 Sep 09 |  African
Fifa happy with Nigeria progress
07 Aug 09 |  African
Lagos organiser slams U-17
22 May 09 |  African
Fifa condemns Nigeria preparations
21 May 09 |  African
Nigeria in U-17 World Cup U-turn
29 Oct 08 |  African
Nigeria gives up under-17 event
23 Oct 08 |  African
2009 Under-17 World Cup
01 Nov 09 |  African

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