FAM’s request to have the Flames match in Nigeria moved from Calabar following security fears has drawn a bitter reaction from Nigeria’s sports authorities in Cross River State.
Nigeria’s Daily Independent newspaper online edition of Wednesday quoted Cross River State commissioner for sports, Patrick Ugbe, as dismissing the letter FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda wrote to Fifa on August 7 2013 in which he said Calabar pose a threat to the Flames.
“We have a track record of hosting the national team matches and we have been doing that since last year. And we are ready again to do it even though we understand that Malawi protested to Fifa that they don’t want to come to Calabar. This is the final match of the group qualifiers,” Ugbe told www.dailyindependentnig.com
“I personally believe that it is because they know that the Eagles have never lost a match in Calabar. They have won all their matches in Calabar and the Malawians know that it will be a tough match for them.
“They need an outright victory while Nigeria need at least a draw in that match for us to proceed to the next stage. So, I guess it is fear that made them to protest to Fifa having followed the Eagles’ matches and knowing that they have done so well in Calabar.
“They are citing security reasons and it shows that they have a poor knowledge of Nigeria because if they had a good knowledge of Nigeria, they would have been asking Fifa to bring the match to Calabar because this is where they will be safest in the country.”
FAM, in a statement signed by Nyirenda, asked Fifa to shift the match to either Abuja or a neighbouring country. FAM also expressed reservations with the choice of referee Hamada el Moussa Nampiandraza.
“There is security risk in Calabar where the match will be played as reported by the Commonwealth Commission. The venue of the match is risky to our delegation and we would like Fifa to shift the match to Abuja or to a neutral country where our delegation will be safe,” Nyirenda wrote to Fifa general secretary.