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State of Cape Coast pitch gets NFF’s attention

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It is two weeks to the first leg match of the Ghana-Nigeria World Cup play-off in Cape Coast. But the pitch of the arena is in deplorable state that could prompt CAF to cancel the initial  approval given to the arena to host the match.

It was gathered that the Ghana Independence Day Celebration held at the arena had adverse effects on the pitch and Ghanaian authorities are battling to retore the pitch.

According to reports gathered from Nigeria’s ThisDay publication, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed that they are monitoring the developments regarding the deplorable state of the pitch that will host the March 25th in Ghana. 

Over the last few days, the Ghana Media had raised concern on the state of the pitch which hosted the country’s independency ceremony last week and doubt if the turf will allow free flow of football in the 90 minutes of play against its eternal rival, Super Eagles of Nigeria. 

However, Thisday gathered from the Glasshouse that the secretariat had informed the Confederation of African Football (CAF), on the development and it has received assurance that the continental football body is monitoring the host FA on the need to return the playing turf back to the global standard. 

“Yes, we are not waiting to find excuse where there is none and because of this, we have regular update on the coming match in Cape Coast and we are aware of the state of the pitch which will not be conducive for our players to play at their best hence, we have notified CAF on the development. 

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“The response from CAF is also encouraging because they have assured Nigeria that they are monitoring Ghana FA to return the pitch back to approved standard and with that we are good to play and hoping to get good result before the next match in Abuja,” a top official in NFF said in a telephone interview. 

Earlier yesterday, Ghana web had raised question on why the stadium was initially approved by CAF considering the fact that the country would stage its annual independence ceremony on same ground before the first leg match against Nigeria.   

The publication even described it; it is looking more like a cassava farm because it was pounded with Independence Day activities last Sunday. 

“The newly built stadium in central Ghana has been left in terrible condition following the Independence Day parade on Sunday. 

“Military and police horses hit the ground for several hours during the parade to celebrate Ghana’s 65th Independence which has left the pitch looking like a cassava farm. 

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“The grass, that was approved by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has suffered severe damage and the surface look brown, making it unplayable. 

“The pitch would not look unrecognizable for CAF officials who gave the greenlight to the Cape Coast Stadium to host the match that would attract global attention. 

“That is because global television stations will be beaming the match live on their screens and the poor state of the pitch would project Ghanaian and African football in a very bad light. 

“Top stars from both sides and their foreign clubs would also be worried that their players could be prone to serious injuries if they play on a pitch of such nature. 

“The players from the top clubs would also not be able to play their best football on a pitch of such nature which has been the bane of African football and how administrators take the issue of pitches for matches seriously. 

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“This has sparked fears that the game could be relocated to another venue to avoid any embarrassment for African football. 

“However, the National Sports Authority will be racing against time to get it in shape before the first leg of the game against Nigeria. The Black Stars host Nigeria on Friday Match 24 in Cape Coast”, reports Ghanasoccernet. 

The top official of NFF also confirmed that conversations between the two football federations has been cordial and both looking forward good soccer mini-fiesta that will project the continent in good light to the world. 

“Despite the long-standing rivalry between the two football nations, we are on same page to be a good host to one another during the visits. 

“We have been able to secure accommodations for the team and delegates from Nigeria that will attend the match. We do not need to wait for the host nation to arrange for us,” the top Management staff said last night. 

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Nigeria will host the second leg of the match at the MKO Abiola Stadium four days later and the best of over the two legs will pick one of the continental five tickets and represent Africa at the tournament in Qatar. 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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