The Nigeria Football Federation has defied criticism of the choice of Kaduna as host city for Super Eagles matches by retaining the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna as venue for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between the Super Eagles and the Pharaohs of Egypt, scheduled for Friday, March 25, 2016.
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The NFF had to take disciplinary measures against Eagles captain Vincent Enyeama after he questioned the choice of Abuja for security reasons. The pitch was also in a sorry state during the AFCON qualifier against Chad on 12 June.
But NFF officials, through the body’s official website, have also confirmed that work will be undertaken on the pitch of the stadium, as well as other areas that need to be improved before the clash with Egypt. Nigeria are second behind Egypt in the Group G table on goals difference.
The Eagles’ next match in the series is away to Tanzania in the first week of September, before the double-header against the Pharaohs, in March. NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, explained on Wednesday that the Federation will henceforth decide international match venues well in advance in order to afford host cities enough time to work on the facilities to be used for such matches.
In line with the new policy, the NFF has also announced that the first leg of the 2016 Olympics qualifying match between the Super Falcons and the Equatorial Guinea coming up on Saturday, July 18 will be played in Port Harcourt.
Following the withdrawal of Mali in the second round, the Falcons now have two rounds of qualifying fixtures to prosecute before qualification for the Women’s Football Tournament of next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Nigerian girls have played at three previous Olympics – 2000, 2004 and 2008.
Also, the African U-23 Championship final round, first leg match between the Nigeria U-23 team and the Congo U-23 side will be played in Port Harcourt, a day after the Falcons/Equatorial Guinea clash.
The winner of the fixture qualifies for the African U-23 Championship coming up in Senegal in December, where the best three of the eight participating teams will be eligible to represent Africa at the Men’s Football Tournament of next year’s Olympics. The fourth-placed team in Senegal will play-off against a team from Asia.