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‘NFF moved 2021 AFCON qualifier from Asaba to Benin on technical grounds’

Facts have emerged on why the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) moved the 2021 AFCON qualifier between the Super Eagles and Leone Stars of Sierra Leone from its original venue, Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State, to Benin City, Edo State capital.

Amaju Pinnick. Photo: Getty Images


In February this year, NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, issued a statement announcing that the 15,400 – capacity Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, would host the Super Eagles versus Leone Stars in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match. Then, the game was scheduled for Friday, March 27, 2020. But the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which crippled sports and business activities around the world, forced the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to postpone the match.

However, the NFF made a u-turn last week by moving the match to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Edo State.

An official of Delta Sports Commission told The Guardian yesterday that the choice of Benin City for the 2021 AFCON qualifier between Nigeria and Sierra Leone was on ‘technical ground.’

MEANWHILE, Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr, has recalled South Africa-based goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, to his team for the qualifier, while home-based goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Cyprus-based Francis Uzoho, and former Golden Eaglets captain, Kelechi Nwakali are on standby.

Also called up for the game are Captain Ahmed Musa, defender William Ekong, midfield enforcer Oghenekaro Etebo, and 21 others.

Nigeria’s leading marksman in the series, Victor Osimhen returns after missing out of this month’s friendlies against Algeria and Tunisia, just as midfielder Joseph Ayodele-Aribo and South Africa –based goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.

According to the NFF website, the players are expected to report at the Protea Hotel Emotan in Benin City on November 9.


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