By Musa Abdullahi Krishi
As part of preparations for next year’s World Cup in Russia, the Super Eagles of Nigeria will play friendly matches with three countries between January and May next year, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of NFF’s 2018 budget defence with the House of Representatives Committee on Sports, the federation’s Secretary General, Mohammed Sanusi, said one of the countries that the Eagles would play is Egypt.
He said although no final decision has been reached, the three friendlies would be played in Abuja before the World Cup to be hosted by Russia in June.
“We’re looking at three countries. We want to play in Abuja. We haven’t finalized, but Egypt is one of them,” he said.
Asked if the NFF was looking at the possibility of inviting additional players to join the Eagles, Sanusi said, “we always allow the coach to do that. We don’t have a hand in the selection of players. It’s up to the coach to bring in the players he wants to bring.”
The committee, chaired by Goni Lawan Bukar (APC, Yobe) had earlier commended the NFF leadership under its president, Amanju Pinnick for bringing sanity to the Nigerian football.
The committee said though it was yet to get the details of the 2018 NFF proposal, it would give it much priority and make adequate allocations for the federation to succeed in its programmes.
“Mr President, you heard all my colleagues commending you for what you have been doing. So, don’t hide anything to us, whatever challenges you have, let us know so that we can fight for you. When you came on board, as a committee, we resolved to help you succeed,” Lawan said.
Also, Rep Abubakar Nuhu Danburam (APC, Kano), who chairs the panel’s technical committee said, “let me congratulate Mr President (of NFF) for what you’ve been able to do for football in the country. It’s a good thing that you’ve been able to resolve issues of bonuses for players going to the World Cup.”
He sought to know the federation’s plans on the issue of its permanent headquarters in Abuja.
Responding, Pinnick said NFF was working with the contractor handling the project to ensure that it “is completed latest by March next year.”
He said the NFF has its goal project which would see the federation building mini-secretariats in all the 36 states in the next five years, saying “we need proper documentation and data of players at the grassroots.”
Currently, he said, Aiteo is building secretariats in six states namely Borno, Osun, Jigawa, Kwara, Bayelsa and Abia to be completed early next year, while states such as Yobe, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Edo, Niger and Ogun would have theirs later in 2018.
“After building these structures, we’re talking to NNPC to build two pitches in each state to be maintained by the states FAs,” he said, adding that the Eagles would play a friendly on May 27.