The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has allayed fears arising from the outbreak of the dreaded Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo which is threatening the proposed pre-World Cup friendly international against the Super Eagles billed for Port Harcourt, Rivers State on May 28.
According to Amaju Pinnick, President of the NFF who was a guest on a Lagos television on Monday morning, the outbreak is not an epidemic capable of stopping the game from going ahead.
He said: “We are in touch with the Congolese FA and we have been reliably informed that the Ebola outbreak is in a very remote part of the country so there’s nothing to really fear. Besides, about 98% of the Congolese players are based outside the country.
“They’re flying in to Nigeria and we have got them a chartered flight which will touch down in Port Harcourt at 6pm on the 25th of May, three days to the match. The aircraft will wait and take them back after the game. As a further precaution, we have written to the Ministry of Health to test them on arrival. We have really covered that and there’s nothing to be worried about.“
On the proposed friendly between Spanish giants Atletico Madrid and the Super Eagles billed for Uyo, the President revealed that the game is a result of the collaborative efforts between the Shehu Dikko-led League Management Company and LaLiga and, as such, will not cost the NFF financially.
“We are not paying Atletico a dime. That’s the beauty of what Dikko is doing at the LMC. Mamelodi Sundowns (of South Africa) are paying Barcelona about $4 million for a friendly but we are not paying anything,” Pinnick explained.
“It’s an arrangement that the LMC had with LaLiga a couple of years back. You know LaLiga have an office here, they employ Nigerians and also pay their taxes here. They have got their landing permits and we already took their advance party to see the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo and they were awed that we have such a beautiful structure here. They loved it. So everything is set for that game.”
The Super Eagles are billed to also play England in Wembley Stadium on June 2 before taking on the Czech Republic on June 6 in Austria as part of preparations for the World Cup.