BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, has confirmed to Sports Village Square that Monday’s friendly match with Burkina Faso has been cancelled. Arraignments are however on to pitch the Super eagles against a Premiership side in place of the botched Burkina Faso match.
In a telephone call from London, Pinnick explained all efforts made by the NFF to get the initial match on. He said that the inability of seven of Burkina Faso players to get the British visa necessitated the cancellation of the match.
According to the NFF president, nine of the Burkina Faso players have EU passports hence don’t require British visas. Of the seven others, two are playing for Ghanaian clubs; three are Cote d’Ivoire based while one each ply trade in Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
He absolved the NFF from any blame as due diligence was done on its part. “I spoke with the fédération burkinabé de football (fbf) president, Sangare Sita while at the CAF General Assembly and he assured all was well.
“We in the NFF did not know that some of their players would have visa issue. I even told my friend, Kwesi Nyantakyi, the Ghana FA president to assist the two Ghana-based Burkina Faso players to get visa and also the sole home based player since there is no British embassy in Burkina Faso.
“But when last night (Friday), Sangara Sita (Burkina Faso FA president) called me from Morocco to explain the visa hitches his team was having, I called the Moroccan FA president, Fouzi Lekjaa, who is my friend to see if he could get in touch with the British consulate in Rabat to help since the Burkinabe players were in Morocco.
“The Morocco FA even opted to host the match in Rabat by asking the Nigerian team to fly down from London. But we could not accept the proposal on account that we are dealing with professional players who took permission from their various clubs to travel to London.
“They can’t change their travel plans without recourse to the clubs. Moreover, the match plans had been submitted to both CAF and FIFA and we will need to revalidate any change.”
The NFF president was asked by Sports Village Square if playing the match on Monday would not contravene FIFA rules that forbid national team playing two consecutive matches within two days since Burkina Faso played on Friday and requires two days for travelling and another two to rest.
He explained to Sports Village Square that the rule would not have affected the friendly with Burkina Faso if visas have been obtained. “FIFA had approved our two friendly matches and also those of Burkina Faso which played Morocco last Friday.
The rules call for rest if the trip is more than six hours journey. Flying from Morocco to UK is barely three hours.”
The cancellation of the match, it is observed was not the fault of the NFF. The president pointed out that the positive aspect of it is that the players still continue with their training and coming together of the players enabled bonding ahead of their next competitive match against South Africa in June. In the interim, plans are on to pitch the Super Eagles with a premiership side. The outcome of the encounter will however not affect the monthly FIFA rating which will be out on April 6.