6 March 2011

Nigeria/Ethiopia: NFF Finally Settles On Abuja for Ethiopia

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has finally settled the contentious issue of where the Super Eagles will host Ethiopia in this month's Nations Cup qualifier by announcing that Abuja will be the venue of the crunch tie.

Until Friday's Executive Board meeting of the federation, there had been varying reports as to where the must-win match would be played - especially after the raw deal the national team received from Lagos fans in last month's friendly against Sierra Leone.

Even though the Eagles eventually beat the Leone Stars 2-1 in Samson Siasia's first official game since being appointed national coach late last year, fans at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos booed the team when it appeared that the visiting side was in the ascendancy.

This prompted much speculation as to whether the venue would still play host to the Nations Cup qualifier with Abuja and Kaduna being mentioned as possible alternative locations.

However, rising from their Executive Meeting Friday, the NFF Board opted to accept the recommendation of their Technical Committee, which had settled on Abuja as their preferred venue.

The March 27 Nations Cup qualifier will kick off in the evening at 7, which is clearly in deference to the foreign-based players who will be coming in from very cool climates.

The Federation also decided that the London 2012 Olympics qualifier against Equatorial Guinea will be played in Benin City, 24 hours before their senior counterparts take to the field.

Apart from the issue of where the Eagles will host Ethiopia, the board also once again expressed its disappointment with US-based Nigerian FIFA Licensed Match Agent, Mr. Pius Oleh, who was to organise a four-nation Green Bowl Soccer Tournament in the United States of America but only informed the NFF of the postponement of the event after the Super Eagles arrived in the US, and decided to set up a three-man panel to thoroughly investigate the incident with a view to forestalling any future occurrences.

The panel will be headed by Mr. Suleiman Kwande, with Dr. Shehu Adamu and Hon. Effiong Johnson as members. Tunde Aderibigbe is the panel's Secretary.

Also as a direct fall out of this and the failed friendly with Guatemala, the Board instructed the Secretariat to commence a process to appoint a 'world-renowned' Match Agent, who will be on a long-term exclusive contract with the Federation and will be saddled with the responsibility of organising friendly matches for Nigeria's national senior team on FIFA-free days.

The Executive Committee in addition, resolved to set up an Arbitration Tribunal to look into the decision of the NFF Electoral Appeals Committee to annul the January 29th, 2011 elections into the boards of the Women's, National and Amateur Leagues.

The Federation's management staff had some thing to cheer when the Committee decided to extend their stay by six months, after their initial 4-year contract ended on Tuesday, February 28. An Ad-hoc Establishment Committee has been set up to deal with all establishment matters within the Federation, including the contract duration of the Management Staff and other vacant positions after July 2011.

The NFF's Executive Committee also set up a number of committee's including: Match Commissioners' Appointment (which is headed by Chief Kunle Adesiyun); Medical (Dr. Abdulkadir Muazu is Chairman) and Appeals (Barrister Eddy Ibrahim Mark is Chairman).

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