Almost 13 years after Nigeria last hosted any major football tournament, the country yesterday notified the Confederation of African Football (CAF) her desire to stage the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 2025.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, confirmed to THISDAY yesterday at the Teslim Balogun 50th anniversary held at the Sheraton Hotel in Lagos that the country has actually thrown her hat into the ring as CAF compiles list of other countries also interest to stage the biennial football tournament.
Cameroon hosted the delayed edition last January with Cote ‘d Ivoire scheduled to stage the next edition next year. CAF listed Guinea to host the 2025 edition but there are strong indications now that the West African nation may not be able to do so due to the political situation in the country as well as inability to put her facilities in order.
“Yes, I have indicated to CAF early today (Tuesday) during our emergency zoom meeting that Nigeria will be able to stage the tournament,” Pinnick hinted.
He however claimed not to know any other country also interested to also host the 2025 edition for now. “We don’t know for now other countries that have submitted bids,” he observed.
Just like it happened in 2000 when Nigeria staged the event alongside Ghana, the NFF president said that the bid will be a joint hosting with the Republic of Benin.
He however could not list likely cities in the country that will stage the tournament.
“We are still in the early stage of the whole process and as time goes on things will get clearer as to the stadiums Nigeria will present to host the matches,” he remarked.
Nigeria first staged the tournament in 1980 and won the trophy for the first time with 3-0 win over Algeria in the final match. 20 years later, Nigeria co-hosted the 2000 edition with Ghana which the Super Eagles lost the final on home soil to the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon at the National Stadium in Lagos.
The last time Nigeria staged any major football competition was in 2009 with the FIFA U-17 tournament which the Golden Eaglets lost to Switzerland in the final match at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja.
At the Thunder Balogun event, the NFF boss said that the federation will continue to honour its past heroes. He thanked the organising committee of the programme for honoring the late footballer.
“The myth around the legend is incredible because as a young lad in Warri, we heard a lot about his goal scoring exploits and bringing him back to life in the memory of this generation is a laudable achievement and the federation will no doubt invest in the Teslim Balogun Foundation,” he concluded.