Abuja - Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade has
declared keen interest in hosting matches of the various National Teams – a
service which his predecessor, Senator Liyel Imoke rendered with much aplomb
and to immense national acclaim.
Former Governor Imoke received encomiums now and again for
hosting matches of the Super Eagles and the Golden Eaglets between 2012 and
2014, as well as long campings for the Golden Eaglets ahead of their triumph at
the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
Governor Ayade’s position was conveyed to the Nigeria
Football Federation through the Cross River State Commissioner for Youth and
Sports, Asu Okang.
Okang was at the NFF Secretariat, in company with the
special adviser to Governor Ayade on youth empowerment, Prince Godswill Edward,
to commiserate with the leadership on the death of the Federation’s Head of
Protocol, Ibrahim Abubakar.
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“Let me convey to you the condolence message of Governor Ben
Ayade and the good people of Cross River State on the death of your Head of
Protocol, Mr. Ibrahim Abubakar. It was a tragic incident that reverberated
round the country and the football world.
“He was a very key officer and many people have spoken of his
diligence and dedication. We pray that Nigeria football never again witness
this kind of tragedy.”
Okang went ahead to reminiscence on Calabar’s warm and
hospitable hosting of international matches, saying that the hospitality will
even get better under the present administration.
“We have a sports –loving Governor, and he says I should
assure you that you will never regret playing international matches in Calabar
during his tenure.”
Responding, NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi expressed
appreciation to Governor Ayade for his offer, and praised the efforts of the
Imoke administration in hosting international matches without any hitch.
“I want to commend you for this condolence visit, and for
the offer from Governor Ayade. We are much aware of the capacity of Cross River
State in hosting matches of the National Teams.
“I will take your proposition to the NFF Executive Committee
and get back to you. One thing I can say for sure is that we are willing to
partner with several States in taking matches of the various National Teams
round the country.”
The U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar played host to 15 matches
of the Super Eagles and the Golden Eaglets between 2012 and 2014 – most of them
competitive games. It was venue for all of the Super Eagles home matches in the
2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series and the 2014 FIFA World Cup
qualifiers, as well as the team’s first match in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations
qualification series against Congo-Brazzaville.For
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