Work has begun in earnest on the pitch of the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, where Nigeria will host Algeria in continuation of the qualifying series for the 2018 World Cup.
African Qualifying Series Group B leaders Nigeria host Algeria’s Fennecs at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on 12th November 2016 in one of the Matchday 2 encounters.
In line with the NFF’s promise to get the Akwa Ibom State Government to work on the turf, following some complaints by Super Eagles’ players after last month’s 2017 Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania, the NFF wrote to Governor Udom Emmanuel on the issue and followed up with a first inspection of the pitch on Saturday.
The NFF’s inspection team, led by the deputy general secretary, Emmanuel Ikpeme, and including assistant director (technical) Siji Lagunju and chief sports officer, Sunday Okayi, was received and taken on the tour of the venue by Monday Uko, the Akwa Ibom State commissioner for youth and sports and the commissioner for special duties, Etido Inyang.
The consultant to Julius Berger, the world–renowned construction company handling the work, was with the team.
A second inspection has been fixed for Tuesday, 25th October, while the final inspection will come up on Wednesday, 2nd November.
“It is a task that we are approaching with all seriousness, and we want to appreciate the Akwa Ibom State Government for the seriousness that it is also attaching to this important task,” Ikpeme said.
Earlier on Thursday, 13th October, NFF 1st vice president Seyi Akinwunmi and chairman of the technical and development committee, Chris Green, as well as Ikpeme, held a meeting with Uko to discuss logistics in order to ensure seamless organisation of the big match.
Also on Thursday, Ikpeme led Abdelwahab Djahid Zefizef, 1st vice president of the Algeria Football Federation, on a guided tour of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, following a written request to that effect by the FAF.
Nigeria beat Algeria to lift her first –ever Africa Cup of Nations when hosting in 1980, but Algeria returned the compliment when hosting 10 years later. Algeria defeated Nigeria home and away in 1981 in the qualifying race for the 1982 FIFA World Cup, but Nigeria returned the compliment in 2005, in the race for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
In the qualifying race for 1994 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria defeated Algeria in Lagos and drew with the Fennecs in Algiers to qualify for her first ever World Cup.
Algeria came from behind to beat Nigeria at the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations in Libya. Both countries played a 0-0 draw at the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, but Nigeria ousted Algeria on penalties in the semi finals of the 1988 Cup finals in Morocco.
Nigeria defeated Algeria 1-0 at the 2002 Africa Cup in Mali, and by the same scoreline at the 2010 Africa Cup finals in Angola to win bronze.