Inspectors appointed by the Confederation of African Football are checking out the stadia and related facilities that Nigeria has put forward in a joint bid with the Benin Republic to host the 35th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in the year 2025.
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On the cards for evaluation are the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja; Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo; Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba; Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos; Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City and; Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
A statement by the spokesperson for the Nigeria Football Federation, Ademola Olajire, on Sunday, said already, the four-man team of Jean-Louis Romain, Emma Bollet, Didier Levy and Timour Tawfik (accompanied by a couple of Nigeria football officials) had assessed the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in the nation’s capital.
It has also assessed Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos; Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, and the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.
In the nation’s showpiece arena in Abuja, the team was received on Friday night by the Deputy Director (Facilities) of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mallam Mohammed Rabiu, and the stadium managers. They were taken through several sections of the arena and made some observations about some sections.
On Saturday night, the team stopped over at the Teslim Balogun Stadium which was under extensive renovation, and they were received by the Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Sola Aiyepeku, alongside the Director General, LSSC, Toyin Gafaar Bolowotan and; the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Grassroots Development, Anthony Adeboye.
At the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Sunday, the Executive Director of Delta State Sports Commission, Chief Tonobox Okowa (who is also President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria) was joined by the Director General, DSSC, Chief Chris Anazuih and the Chairman of the Delta State Football Association, Chief Kenneth Nwaomucha as the team went round the facility.
In Benin City also, on Sunday, the Chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission, Mr. Yusuf Alli, was in company with the Permanent Secretary, Sabina Chikere; Chairman of the Edo State Football Association, Abu Rowland and the Director of Facilities, Victor Edokpayi, as they inspected several sections of the magnificent facility.
A common refrain has been the need to reconfigure facilities in a way that different client-groups in the football arena, such as VIPs, players and their officials, media representatives and the fans will have seamless and distinct entry and exit points to play their part without any group obstructing the other.
The inspectors will also check out the Stade Charles de Gaulle, Porto Novo in Benin Republic.
Nigeria hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, and co-hosted with Ghana 23 years ago. The country has hosted a number of major football and general sporting events such as the All-Africa Games (1973 and 2003), the FIFA U20 World Cup (1999) and the FIFA U17 World Cup (2009).