IMO, CROSS RIVER FIGHT OVER EAGLES MATCH VENUE
Nigeria's Super Eagles have turned beautiful brides as Imo and Cross River States are now jostling to play host to the national team in its quest for the 2014 World Cup qualification. As World football governing body, FIFA, awaits Nigeria to confirm the venue of its World Cup qualifier on June 2 against Namibia, the two states are fighting over the right to play host to Eagles.
After the categorical elimination of Abuja (bad pitch and facilities) and Kaduna (Security) the searchlight fell on Cross River, Oyo and Imo States that boast of natural grass pitches. The NFF, however, is more disposed to U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
A twist was added to the whole drama this week with the arrival of Stephen Keshi from his annual leave and the speculation that he was to take the final decision on where he wants his team to play. Our usual reliable source has it that the Imo State government with the backing of Governor Rochas, had approached Keshi to 'come to Owerri and take a look at our stadium'.
A top member of the football federation agreed that Coach Keshi will have a significant say in deciding which venue will stage the match, but he will not do so in isolation of the Football House.
'Normally, we should not have gone on inspection of those venues without him, but since he was on leave and CAF and FIFA were mounting pressure on us to submit the venue name and match time, we had to go ahead, pending when he will return ' he said. Now that Coach Keshi has come back and has been invited to Owerri, how will the NFF handle it?
'All this story of being invited to Owerri is just a rumour. That is not the way it is done. If Keshi does not trust our judgement and wants to conduct an independent inspection, he will tell us and we will look at his request', we were told.
The choice of the NFF, it was exclusively gathered is U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar. When the NFF team visited Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri, it was told that CAF had protested the absence of a functional dressing room, and the poor state of the roof in the VIP Stand, among other defects that are threatening the continued use of the Stadium for Heartland's CAF Confederation Cup matches. Another plus going for Calabar is the recent favour granted the NFF by the Cross River State Government.
by picking up the bills of the camping of the U-20 national team.
The NFF we were told will name the venue by Wednesday.