This Day (Lagos)

19 July 2012

Nigeria: Arsenal's First Team Stars Coming to Lagos

Airtel Nigeria has partnered Arsenal Football Club to bring four first-team players of the prestigious London Club to Lagos, Nigeria.

The players are expected in Lagos later this month and have been scheduled to take part in exclusive Airtel events in Nigeria.

Tomas Rosicky, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker and new signing Lukas Podolski will travel to Lagos with Club officials for a flying visit at the end of the month. The players will take part in club events and other activities organised by Airtel.

The move follows the postponement of Arsenal's game against Nigeria which was earlier scheduled for Sunday, August 5.

Arsenal's Head of Global Partnerships, Vinai Venkatesham, said: "We were disappointed to have to postpone the game and intend to visit Nigeria next summer. However we are delighted to be bringing this group of players to Nigeria to take part in events with our regional partners. It will give us a chance to engage with our local supporters and reinforce our commitment to the market."

The players will take part in a busy schedule of events in Lagos. The players will also be making appearances for mobile network operator Airtel.

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director for Airtel Nigeria, Deepak Srivastava, said: "Arsenal has a very large support base in Nigeria and Airtel is eager to connect these fans with some of their favourite football players.

"Indeed, Airtel is extremely committed to creating opportunities to excite and engage telecommunications consumers just as we are passionate about realizing our brand vision of being the most-loved brand in the daily lives of Nigerians."

Meanwhile, Super Eagles will no longer play a friendly next month prior to their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia, officials have disclosed.

"There will be no friendly for the Eagles next month," a top Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) official confirmed Wednesday.

Before now, top NFF officials maintained that the Eagles will be engaged even after world football governing body FIFA shifted their friendly window from August to September.

NFF officials said then that they were open to lining up only players from the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) as the Europe-based stars will now not be available.

Several countries including Gabon, Ethiopia, Sudan and lately Uganda were also being lined up as possible opponents for this friendly to prepare the Eagles for the Liberia clash.

Nigeria will face the Lone Star of Liberia on September 8 in a first leg of the final round of the qualifying series for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The return leg match will be played in Calabar on October 14 with the overall winners qualifying for next year's AFCON to be hosted by South Africa from January 19.

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