The Nigerian Football Federation General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, on Friday shelved his planned trip to South Africa to inspect facilities at the Pa Ngele Oruta Stadium, Abakaliki.
Sanusi, who led a delegation of the NFF to insect facilities at the 10,000 capacity stadium, told the News Agency of Nigeria after the inspection that the inspection was at the instance of the Ebonyi State Government.
Sanusi noted that the importance attached to the invitation by the NFF made him shelve his planned trip to South Africa to watch the Super Eagles AFCON 2019 qualifier against the Bafana Bafana.
He said: “The importance of the invitation made myself and the NFF President to decide that one of us must make the sacrifice of not going to South Africa and that is why I am here.
“We received a letter from the state government inviting us to inspect facilities at the stadium and offer advice on how to make it attain the standard of hosting international matches.”
The NFF scribe noted that facilities at the stadium were commendable but that several areas needed to be upgraded to achieve the government’s desire of hosting international matches.
Sanusi said: “The stadium’s pitch needs to be re-grassed and leveled while activities capable of destroying the pitch should not take place inside the stadium.
“The dressing room needs to be worked on, including accommodation for match officials, while a good media tribune should be erected inside the stadium.
“Imagine the number of journalists that will be present supposing the Super Eagles are playing at the stadium as the tribune is usually high for a clearer view of proceedings.”
Sanusi, however, expressed confidence that the state government would implement the recommendations, which it proved by inviting the NFF to inspect and advice it on necessary steps to take.
He said: “I was impressed with the scenario at Abakaliki when I arrived as it was a massive improvement of what it used to be in the past.
“Immediately these facilities are put in place, we would come back for another inspection and if satisfied, we will request that the government extends such an invitation to the Confederation of African Football and theFederation of International Football Association.
“Once these bodies certify the stadium fit to host international matches, the Super Eagles among other national teams will be playing at the stadium.”
Sanusi noted that the state commissioner for sports and youth development, secretary of the state football association among other stakeholders agreed with the inspection team’s observations.
Charlse Akpuenika, the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, described the inspection as historic, noting that it had never happened before in the state’s history.
Akpuenika said: “The state government has invested heavily in renovating the stadium and we are happy that the NFF honoured our invitation to inspect facilities at the stadium.
“The recommendations made by the team will be implemented by the time we present the report to the governor who is desirous to attract international sports events to the state.”
He noted that though the Governor, David Umahi, travelled, he was aware of the inspection and was expecting its report for necessary actions.