Lagos - Nigeria will host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations
qualifying match between the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone and the reigning African
champions, Cote d’Ivoire due to the Ebola virus scare in Sierra Leon.
The game, a Matchday 2 clash in Group I of the Africa Cup of
Nations qualification series, will hold at either the Teslim Balogun Stadium,
Lagos or the Adokiye Amiesiamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt on Sunday, September 6,
the NFF announced on Wednesday.
NFF President Amaju Pinnick said that on receiving the
request from the Sierra Leone Football Association, which is the host
association for the match, the NFF approached the Federal Ministry of Health
for a go-ahead.
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“We are delighted to announce that we have received the
go-ahead from the Federal Ministry of Health to host the match. The Sierra
Leoneans will come with a delegation of 32, made up of mostly overseas –based
professionals, technical crew and officials of the SLFA, to be led by its
president, Isha Johansen.
“We are happy about the go-ahead because, once more, our
country has an opportunity to underscore its leadership role on the African
continent, nay global sphere. The NFF has initiated discussions with the Lagos
State Government and Rivers State Government on preventive measures, such as
keeping Sierra Leone’s small delegation in a special hotel where they can be
monitored at all times.”
Stressing that the hosting of the match is without any
financial commitment to Nigeria, Pinnick stated that Nigeria has everything to
gain and nothing to lose by hosting the match, recalling that recently, the
U-20 Women National Team played a 2016 World Cup qualifier in Liberia and the
Liberian team also came to Nigeria for the return leg, without any health
It will be recalled that since the Ebola virus pandemic that
ravaged some West African countries last year, the Confederation of African
Football had compelled Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to find alternative
venues for home matches. These countries have played their ‘home’ matches in
countries like Ghana, Morocco, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali without any
“We are talking of hosting the African champion team, with
the likes of African Player of the Year, Yaya Toure and others, and this will
certainly earn us commendation from CAF and FIFA.”
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