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Nigerian Football

NFF Happy With Uyo Stadium Pitch

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It is exactly 60 days to Nigeria’s duel with South Africa in the qualifying series for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations this Thursday. An NFF inspection team on Tuesday visited the Godswill Akpabio, Uyo venue of the match.

According to a media release from the Communication Department of the NFF, the delegation headed by Barrister Chris Green has expressed satisfaction with the current state of the playing turf. Nigeria last featured at the continental premier competition four years ago.

Green, alongside NFF Deputy General Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme on Tuesday inspected the magnificent facility, nicknamed ‘Nest of Champions’ and which hosted the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the Super Eagles and Tanzania in September 2016, as well as the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying battle between the Eagles and the Fennecs of Algeria five months ago.

“We are delighted with the state of the playing turf and other facilities at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium,” Green told thenff.com. “I can tell you that the pitch is just as it was when the Super Eagles played Algeria in the World Cup qualifier in November last year.

“The fact that Julius Berger has also started some work on the turf is even more re-assuring. They are adding manure, and afterwards will do cutting and rolling, and they have the benefit of the weather at this period. By the time we host South Africa on 10th June, the pitch will be one of the very best anywhere in Africa.”

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Tuesday’s visit to the capital of Akwa Ibom State was to ascertain the condition of the playing pitch and indeed other facilities at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, as well as the level of commitment of the State Government to hosting the big match.

After the inspection, the team reported: “Every inch of the field is covered by grass and the grass is lush green. Julius Berger (the company that built the stadium) has commenced work on the field for the purpose of bringing it to the best standard possible. Every other facility is in good condition.

“The condition of the field, as it is now, is good enough for matches to be played on it. The Akwa Ibom State Government has continued to show desire and commitment to hosting the match.”

However, in order to maintain the lush –green state of the pitch, the inspection team has advised that no activity be carried out on it until ongoing work is completed and the 2019 Cup of Nations qualifier between the Eagles and the Bafana Bafana is played.

The ‘Nest of Champions’ will also play host to the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches between the Super Eagles and Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions (August 2017) and between the Super Eagles and the Chipolopolo of Zambia (October 2017).

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Also present during the inspection were Sir Monday Ebong Uko (State Commissioner for Youth and Sports), Akan Okon (State Commissioner for Special Duties),  Aniedi Dickson (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports), Emmanuel Iba (Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Football Association),  Paul Bassey (Chairman of Akwa United Football Club/SSA to Governor on Sports), Victor Owokwure (the Stadium Manager), representatives of Akwa Ibom State Sports Council and representatives of Julius Berger construction company.

 

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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