The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) says it moved the 2021 AFCON qualifier between the Super Eagles and Leone Stars of Sierra Leone from its original venue, Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State, to Benin City, Edo State capital on technical grounds.
NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, had ìn February this year stated in a statement announcing that the 15,400 – capacity Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, would host the Super Eagles versus Leone Stars in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match earlier scheduled for Friday, March 27, 2020. The match was however postponed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which crippled sports and business activities around the world.
The NFF made a u-turn last week by moving the match to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Edo State.
According to the Guardian, an official of Delta Sports Commission on Thursday said that the choice of Benin City for the 2021 AFCON qualifier between Nigeria and Sierra Leone was on ‘technical ground.’
“We actually prepared to host the match, but our government has since converted the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba to a COVID-19 isolation centre. To move the equipment from the stadium will take some time. Apart from that, it will be difficult to get the pitch ready for such a big match within a few days. The NFF must have put all these into consideration.
“We are not angry about the sudden change of venue. The choice of Benin City for the match is okay. Maybe, before the next game, the government would have moved the COVID-19 isolation centre from Stephen Keshi Stadium”, he said.
Named after former Super Eagles captain and coach, late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, the Asaba stadium, was famous for hosting several international events, including Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship, as well as matches involving the Super Eagles and the Nigeria U23 squad since it was opened two years ago.