The Nigerian national team make a return to the most populous city in the country more than a decade after their last game there
Manager Gernot Rohr has not hidden his displeasure with the choice of the Teslim Balogun Stadium as the venue to host the Super Eagles versus Lesotho AFCON-qualifying clash, and he has proffered reasons why he is not sold on the idea.
Nigeria need a point from their remaining two matches against the Benin Republic and Lesotho to book a place at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
The three-time African champions take on Benin in Cotonou, before playing host to Lesotho three days later at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
Rohr has expressed the hopes that the state government will get the pitch match-ready before the encounter, adding that the grass is already lush-green and there are just little finishing touches to be put in place.
However, the Franco-German tactician is concerned about the famed traffic and security situations in Lagos, especially for foreign-born players such as Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun, who have never before been to Nigeria’s commercial capital.
“Yes, it’s official. We will play in Lagos against Lesotho on March 30, for the sixth and final day of qualifying for the next AFCON. It will probably be in an empty stadium,” Rohr told French radio station Europe1 (via Football 365).
“Teams are working on the pitch. I inspected it all. The traffic in Lagos is terrible, but we are promised an escort between our hotel and the stadium, or even to close the road to allow us to avoid traffic jams.
“The other day, I took an hour to make the trip. It’s a bit much before a game.”
Nonetheless, Rohr is convinced that Super Eagles stars are looking forward to returning to Lagos, with many current players yet to play in Lagos.
The former Girondins Bordeaux manager added: “The idea of playing in Lagos is good for the players.
“Some do not know this city at all, this is the case of Leon Balogun. Like Aribo or others, who were born in Europe.
“They will discover this crazy city, with 19 million inhabitants. It is important that we have security, escorts to move around, and a good pitch to play. We are working on all these aspects,” Rohr concluded.