By Albert Akota
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) insists that their pre-World Cup friendly with DR Congo will go ahead next week despite the outbreak of Ebola in the latter country.
The Super Eagles are set to host the Leopards in their first 2018 World Cup warm-up game, with the match set for Port Harcourt next Monday [May 28].
Nigeria’s minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, says the country will take strong measures to ensure their safety, but they will not be cancelling the match.
He claims that the arriving DRC players will be thoroughly screened for the disease: “[They] will come to Nigeria in a chartered flight and nobody else will be allowed to arrive the country for the match through any other means except the chartered flight,” the minister affirmed.
Dalung added, “Nigeria is going to play the friendly with DRC. I have discussed with the Federal Ministry of Health, with the World Health Organisation. We have reviewed the situation and received adequate information about it.
“So, we have agreed on major approaches. One, the DRC team is coming through a chartered flight and those coming for the match will be using that chartered flight and they would have been screened from the DRC and they will be screened here in Nigeria.
“There is going to be no other person that is going to be admitted using any other means of transportation for the match.
“We also discovered that the Ebola outbreak is limited to a particular place and it has not escalated. So, we wouldn’t want to run the risk of setting a precedent which we will later be a victim of.”
Meanwhile, NFF has secured a US$2.8million budget for the Super Eagles’ 2018 World Cup campaign.
An early release of US$2m from FIFA has been supplemented by an additional US$800,000 – raised by the federation itself – to ensure Nigeria is perfectly on track financially for the tournament in Russia.
“We are glad that our efforts and relationship with FIFA has always paid off. We were also then able to raise $800,000 in addition which gave the federation the exact amount needed to prosecute the World Cup and the remaining pre-World Cup games,” said NFF president Amaju Pinnick, as quoted by Vanguard.
“We are confident now that without any distraction, the players can concentrate with Nigerians and fans of the Eagles [set to] see the most organised outing [to the World Cup] so far.”
The NFF also has an agreement in place with the squad in regards to payment and bonuses, which was reportedly agreed upon just before Nigeria’s 4-2 friendly win over Argentina in a friendly in November last year.
In addition to completing the World Cup budget, the Federation has also prepared appearance fees for upcoming friendly matches against DRC Congo in Port Harcourt and England in London.
Nigeria has in the past been guilty of embarrassing disagreements over payments, such as at the 2013 Confederation Cup and the 1998 World Cup.