By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Super Eagles 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone scheduled for next month, THISDAY has scooped, is to be played at the refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.
The encounter against fellow West Africans, is the first competitive game to be played by the three-time African champions after Covid-19 pandemic caused football and other sports to be in lockdown for close to one year.
THISDAY learnt yesterday that the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the technical crew of the Eagles have reached a consensus on using the ‘brand new’ Ogbemudia Stadium for the game.
“The NFF officials have confirmed to us that Super Eagles are going to play their AFCON 2022 qualifier against Sierra Leone at our Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium here in Benin City.
“We are really excited by the news, most especially as it will be the very first sporting event to take place at the stadium since it was refurbished to host the 20th National Sports Festival in March but had to be postponed because of the outbreak of the Coronavirus worldwide,” a top football personality told THISDAY from Benin City yesterday.
The Super Eagles have become nomadic since both the National Stadiums in Lagos and Abuja became unplayable due to their terrible conditions for years.
Stadiums in Uyo, Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Asaba have played hosts with none that can really be called ‘home’ for the Eagles the way the Sport-city in Lagos was dreaded by African teams.
The newly refurbished Ogbemudia Stadium has a sitting capacity of 19,500 and is perhaps, the best of its kind in the country at the moment. It boast of electronic scoreboard and has capacity for a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) playback.
The administration of Mr. Godwin Obaseki, went the extra mile to build new facilities as well as refurbish most of the sports infrastructures built by the late Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia era that threw up the old Bendel State as the sporting destination of choice in the country.
Although it is not yet certain if fans are going to be allowed into the main-bowl arena to witness the first game of the year live, plans are however afoot to transmit the AFCON qualifier live.
The stadium last hosted the senior national team in 2011 when Boswana came visiting with late Stephen Keshi in charge as Super Eagles Head Coach.