AFCON Qualifier:Minister, Keshi inspect Abuja Stadium ahead of Sudan encounter

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Abuja – The Minister of Sports, Tammy Danagogo, on Tuesday in Abuja, inspected the National Stadium, Abuja, ahead of the Oct. 15 return-leg Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier between Nigeria and Sudan.
The minister was accompanied by Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles Interim Coach and Ibrahim Shehu, the ministry’s Director of Stadia and Facilities.
Danagogo, who was elated with the current state of the stadium pitch, nodded his head in satisfaction to the explanations made by the Director.
The minister, who refused to comment on the inspection, also inspected the dressing rooms for home and visiting teams.
Stephen Keshi said that the inspection was an indication that the Eagles might play their remaining home matches in Abuja due to the poor condition of the UJ Eusene stadium, Calabar.
“There is the possibility of the Eagles playing their remaining AFCON qualifying matches here; that’s what we are discussing with the minister in case it doesn’t work out in Calabar.
“Although we will love to play in Calabar, but right now, the pitch has a little problem, so if it’s not going down well there, then we can move down to Abuja and play.
“What I am seeing now at the Abuja stadium is a lot better than what we saw the last time we played here.
“Then, it was so sandy and not very good for players but what I am seeing now is encouraging for players to play on,’’ Keshi said.
The Super Eagles handler further said that the list of invited players for the first leg AFCON 2015 qualifier against Sudan in Omdurman on Oct. 11 would be submitted to the NFA latest on Thursday.
Keshi said he was optimistic that Nigeria would qualify for the AFCON 2015 to be hosted by Morocco between Jan. 17 and Feb. 8.
“I understand how Nigerians feel after we lost to Congo in Calabar and the draw in South Africa but we can’t give up.
“We have four matches to play and we just have to keep doing our best till the end of the remaining matches.
“You can’t write your team off; if truely you are supporting your team, you only need to believe that the team will qualify.
“The players want to hear that Nigerians still believe in them in spite of the loss to Congo; not abusing them or cursing their parents.
“It takes building the confidence of the players for us to qualify,’’ Keshi added.
NAN recalls that the National Stadium, Abuja, has not been put to use since the pitch was re-grassed in 2013 by contractors Julius Berger.
NAN reports that Nigeria will play Sudan in a two-legged encounter in the AFCON 2015 qualifier before taking on South Africa and Congo.
Nigeria will first play Sudan in Omdurman on Oct. 11 before the return leg on Oct. 15 in Abuja. (NAN)

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