By Olawale Alabi
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Saturday said Super Eagles’ second international friendly, against Burkina Faso in London on Monday, has been called off over UK entry visa hitches.
Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Media and Communications, said in a statement that the development was after seven players in the Burkinabe contingent failed to secure visas into the UK.
He said the other players in the Burkinabe contingent were however able to enter the UK, but it was not enough for the match not to be called off.
Olajire quoted Chris Green, Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, as expressing the Federation’s regrets about the development.
“The second friendly match we had scheduled for the Super Eagles as part of preparations for the remaining matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying series and the beginning of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification race will no longer take place on Monday.
“The match in question is called off due to no fault of either the organisers or the NFF, but is regrettable,’’ he was quoted as saying.
Green was however also quoted as saying the NFF would announce further plans for the Super Eagles’ preparation for the two qualifying campaigns in due course.
Olajire had, in the statement, explained that there was no British High Commission in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital.
“Officials of the Federation Burkinabe de Football (FBF) had been shuttling between Accra in Ghana and Ouagadougou for visa processing.
“FBF sources said the Embassy in Accra told them last week to proceed to Morocco (where the Etalons played against the Atlas Lions on Friday) and that the visas would be issued there.
“However, the applications were still pending at the British Embassy in Morocco as at close of work on Friday, the last working day before Monday, the match day in London.
“FBF on Friday by 7 p.m. UK time called the match organisers to say some of their players and officials were unable to secure entry visas into the UK and therefore would not be able to honour the match.’’
The NFF spokesman said the Federation’s President, Amaju Pinnick, was unhappy with the development.
“But Pinnick stated that the objectives of satisfying the technical team’s desire of squaring up against tough, physical African opposition and fostering team bonding and organisation were achieved.’’