Ebola: Sierra Leone adopt Nigeria for AFCON qualifier against Cote d’Ivoire

NFF president Amaju Pinnick

By Toby Prince

Amaju Pinnick
Amaju Pinnick

Nigeria will host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match between reigning African champions, Cote d’Ivoire, and the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announced on Wednesday.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) stated in a circular dated August 12, 2014 that “earlier circular that said Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone cannot host matches in their territories due to the Ebola outbreak will remain the same until further notice.”

The West African nations then sought alternative countries to play their home games and the Leone Stars adopted Nigeria.

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, said on Wednesday that on receiving the request from the Sierra Leone Football Association, which is the host association for the match, the NFF approached the Federal Ministry of Health for a go-ahead.

“We are delighted to announce that we have received the go-ahead from the Federal Ministry of Health to host the match. The Sierra Leoneans will come with a delegation of 32, made up of mostly overseas –based professionals, technical crew and officials of the SLFA, to be led by its president, Isha Johansen.

As an administrator, Pinnick has his mind fixed on the benefits as it affects his administration and reputation.

“We are happy about the go-ahead because, once more, our country has an opportunity to underscore its leadership role on the African continent, nay global sphere. The NFF has initiated discussions with the Lagos State Government and Rivers State Government on preventive measures, such as keeping Sierra Leone’s small delegation in a special hotel where they can be monitored at all times.”

“We are talking of hosting the African champion team, with the likes of African Player of the Year, Yaya Toure, and others, and this will certainly earn us commendation from CAF and FIFA.”