As part of preparations for the Super Eagles’ 2021 AFCON qualifier against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick, has inspected the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.
Pinnick was accompanied by the Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, who led other stakeholders in the state’s sports sector, on a tour of the newly reconstructed sporting facility.
Pinnick said, “These are very critical and sensitive times. So, I decided as President of the NFF to take charge, possibly to go back and report to my executive members. There is tremendous improvement compared to the last time I came. The turf is very brilliant. It is what you see in world class facilities. I thank the Edo State Government for these facilities and we are proud of this achievement.
“I am in touch with the players who are all excited to be here to play for the country especially Ahmed Musa, the captain of the team, whose mother is from Edo State. He is anxious to play for the nation and his state.”
Noting that the state government has made tremendous progress in developing the sporting sector in the state, he said, “The NFF will move into the state on Friday while the players will start arriving from Sunday and after the game, preparation is in place to fly to Sierra Leone on Friday or Saturday after the game. I will communicate all I have seen here to the Ministry of Youths and Sports and also the Executive Committee. However, I am happy with what we have seen here today and the Super Eagles will be playing here for a long time.”
Pinnick added, “We are also going to bring the Super Falcons here to play. You know this is home. We thank the Edo State Government for being there for the Nigeria Football Federation and we thank them for their generosity at every point in time because these are very sensitive times.”
Speaking on the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), Pinnick said that he has told Governor Obaseki and his deputy that facilities in the stadium will be showcased.
“You have to showcase whatever facilities you have in Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium; we have to write to CAF for approval for the usage of the VAR. But, we are very excited about it,” he added.
On his part, the deputy governor, Shaibu said the state is very excited to host its first international game after a long while.
According to him, “That is what it was intended to achieve. We want to host both national and international games. We are also excited that the purpose of building this stadium is coming to fruition. We were in touch with NFF when we were building the stadium. They guided us on all the necessary facilities to put in place.
“What we have here today is an international standard stadium. We are excited that we are having this game here. Don’t forget that we are having a game in this period of COVID-19 pandemic. You know that COVID-19 Taskforce in the state is very strong and they have already been recruited to be part of this game. We are going to make sure that COVID-19 protocols are observed in line with international best practices.
“I want to use this medium to assure Edo people that there are going to be a lot of games here. We are going to fill half of the stadium. We are going to make sure that they are well spaced to meet COVID-19 protocol. We are very ready and excited.”