Lagos - Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has broken its silence over what it described as antics by Malawian football authorities to provoke animosity ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifier between the two countries.
NFF President Aminu Maigari said events in the past weeks have shown that the Malawian team was either "afraid" of Nigeria or "unprepared" for the match.
"From what has been happening in the past weeks, one can see that the Malawians are up to something.
"Firstly, they complained about the safety of the match venue. FIFA dismissed that. We also gave them personal assurances.
"They also expressed fears about visa issues here in Nigeria and we told them there was no cause to worry. Now, they have come up with racism allegations against our coach," he said.
This week, FIFA confirmed that it had received a petition by the Malawian Football Association alleging a racist comment by Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi against his Malawian counterpart Tom Saintfiet.
Last week, the world football governing body dismissed complaints by Malawi that the match venue in Calabar, in the Cross River State, was unsafe due to rampant cases of kidnapping of foreigners in the state.
FIFA snubbed requests for a change of venue.
In addition, the Malawian coach insisted that he wanted Nigerian visas issued to all his players by the Nigerian Embassy in Malawi to avoid visa issues in the West African country.
"I believe that it is either they are not ready for this match or they are just afraid of losing to us," Maigari said.
The top-of-the table clash is crucial for both teams. With Nigeria leading Malawi by two points, a victory for either side will seal qualification to the final rounds of qualifiers. A win for Malawi will eliminate Nigeria.
The teams drew the first leg 1-1 in Malawi.
- CAJ News