The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between African champions Cote d’Ivoire and the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone will now take place at the Adokiye Amiesiamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt on Sunday, the Nigeria Football Federation has announced.
By Monday, the NFF had concluded arrangements for the match to hold at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, but then received a letter from the Sierra Leone Football Association conveying concerns raised by the Football Ivorienne de Football (FIF) about playing on artificial turf. This has necessitated a change to Port Harcourt.
“We received a letter from the SLFA saying they are aware of serious concerns by the Ivorien Football Federation about their players playing on artificial turf, which is the texture of the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
“The NFF had concluded arrangements to have the match in Lagos, but as a result of the letter, we had to look elsewhere. We appreciate the Lagos State Government for showing interest in hosting the match,” NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, said on Monday.
Thenff. Com learnt that on receiving the letter, NFF President Amaju Pinnick quickly got on the phone to make contact with the Rivers State Government through the Rivers State Football Association, whose chairman, Barrister Chris Green, is also a member of the NFF Executive Committee. The green light was secured for the match to be played in Port Harcourt.
The letter from the SLFA read, inter alia: “I have been asked to inform you that we are privy to concerns raised by the Ivorian Football Federation about playing on an artificial turf at the AFCON qualifier match between Sierra Leone vs Ivory Coast on Sunday, 6th September, 2015. Would it be possible for us to have an alternative solution of a natural grass stadium if need be to avoid any rancor.” The letter was signed by Chris Kamara, the SLFA’s General Secretary.
Sanusi added: “We have decided to see some positives in this compelled switch. When our Super Eagles fly into Port Harcourt from Dar es Salaam in the early hours of Sunday, they will be able to go to the stadium in the evening to see the Sierra Leone/Cote d’Ivoire match.”