The Super Eagles 2-1 AFCON Qualifiers win over Sierra Leone inside a rain battered playing surface of the Moshood Abiola international stadium on Thursday 9th June 2022 renewed concerns over why the NFF continues to ignore the Nest of Champions in Uyo despite it’s preference by CAF.
As in the days of Genot Rohr, new Super Eagles Head Coach Jose Paseiro publicly expressed reservations over the state of the playing turf and it’s suitability for the game . This led to a ministerial order for the closure of the facility to allow the groundsmen time to put the pitch in perfect condition.
The rains in the afternoon of Thursday 9th June 2022 made mess of the emergency measures leaving the pitch bumpy and opposing to a free flowing football game when the Eagles faced the Leone stars. If Nigeria had lost , the Eagles would have put forward the terrible playing surface as an excuse.
This when added to the unfortunate events that followed the World Cup Qualification playoffs vs Ghana made the decision to host yesterday’s game in Abuja a odd choice. Odd because the Nest of Champions having hosted the CAF Confederation Cup Final was a ready alternative.
The Godswill Akpabio international stadium in Uyo was a ready alternative to allow time for proper work on the Moshood Abiola international stadium, Abuja. The NFF has since 2019 ignored the magnificent edifice at the Godswill Akpabio international stadium for international games .
The stadium was however preferred by The Confederation of African Football to host the final of the 2022 CAF Confederation Cup Final in May. CAF Officials paid glowing tribute to the quality playing turf and facilities at the Nest of Champions before, during and after the final game. Even global brands Gotv and Heineken had no doubt the stadium was currently the best in the country hence it’s choice for the Gotv Max Cup and the Unmissable match.
The Nigerian Football Federation will however pay deaf ear to the calls for the Super Eagles to play it’s home games at the Godswill Akpabio international stadium till when the playing turf at the Moshood Abiola international stadium Abuja gets required attention.
The Godswill Akpabio International stadium was officially opened on November 7, 2014. Valued at $96million the stadium nicknamed ‘The Nest of Champions’ is an ultra-modern sports complex which boasts of a 30,000-capacity.
The stadium has bulletproof VIP and VVIP areas for all type of games, well maintained natural grass , high-tech floodlights, a training pitch, plus two electronic scoreboard and video facilities for replays.
Comfortable dressing rooms , media facilities ambulance bay , a box office, video facilities, and a standby power supply system.
Modelled after the Allianz Arena in Germany and designed to meet International Safety Standards , the Nest of Champions has 30 emergency exit points to facilitate easy exit , closed-circuit security cameras, crowd control steel fencing, stand by firefighting equipment and metal detectors.
The Super Eagles under Genot Rohr fell in love with the Nest of Champions after qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFCON in record time. Unlike the poor maintenance culture affecting structures across Nigeria, the amazing features of this sports facility are intact thanks to the effort of the Akwa Ibom State government .
Another advantage the Eagles will enjoy in Uyo is the hospitable nature of the fans. Former Eagles manager Gernot Rohr regularly made calls for the Nest of Champions as the home ground of the Eagles but for reasons best known to the Amaju Pinnick led NFF the Eagles are kept away from what remains the best stadium in the country.
His call was not heed by the Amaju Pinnick led NFF who preferred Asaba, Benin and Abuja for Nigeria’s international matches . A worry for the Super Eagles players and their handlers .
Jose Paseiro and his team should prevail on the NFF to give the team a worthy home where the players will enjoying playing with cheers from over 30,000 support cast. In Nigeria today, only the Nest of Champions Uyo meets this specifications.