Abuja – The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said the Super Eagles would depart the country aboard an Egypt Airliner for the second leg of the AFCON 2017 qualifier against Egypt on March 26.
The President of NFF, Amaju Pinnick, who said this in a chat with newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, explained that the present economic situation had made it difficult for the team to travel to Egypt by chartered flight.
Pinnick said that travelling by a regular Egypt airliner would help the football house save about N40 million, which could be used to pay part of the players’ match bonuses and allowances.
“We looked at various options; we have Arik as our partner but Arik as a company is going through a tough time; tough time in the sense that everything they are doing is in foreign currency.
“So, even if they say that they are going to take 250, 000 dollars to fly the team there, how much is it in naira? Over N60 million.
“It was initially 290,000 dollars but they came down because they have to pay landing and parking charges in Alexandria and we looked at the other option that Egypt Air has three flights from Nigeria every day.
“They have from Kano, Abuja and Lagos; we are going to be saving a minimum of 35 to N40 million and if you can save that why don’t you do a regular Egypt Air that leaves Abuja 11. 30 and gets to Cairo that Saturday.
“Cairo to Alexandria is twenty minutes by air and one hour by road because indeed they (players) might not even train that Saturday, then, on Sunday/Monday they will train and by Tuesday evening they play the game.
“So, people should be able to see why we are doing this not because of anything but looking at cost and other operational activation; it’s going to save us minimum N30 million.
“So, it’s a 100, 000 dollars which of course can pay players some of their bonuses.
“So we are looking at the economics of scale.’’
According to the NFF boss, preparation for the first leg encounter between Nigeria and Egypt in Kaduna on March 25 has reached an advanced stage as the invited foreign-based players have assured him of victory.
Pinnick stated that the players have resolved to do their best possible, including spend their own resources, to ensure that they pick the AFCON 2017 ticket at the expense of Egypt.
“In terms of preparation, its 100 per cent and the foreign-based players take this match as their fight because of their passion.
“They called me to tell me that they will mark the Egyptians out of position.
“It excites me when the players say this.’’
Pinnick told the players not to worry about the weather condition in Kaduna as they will acclimatise before the encounter.
There had been complaints by some of the players that Kaduna would be hot for them during the encounter.
Pinnick said: “Most of these players were born here and they grew up here too.
“It is natural that once you travel outside the country for three months, once you get into the country your body regulates.
“However, we have communicated our time and programme to CAF; so, we cannot at this point begin to change our programme and venue because the Egyptians will see it that we are jittery.
“The players will adapt by the time they arrive the country and that was the essence of inviting home-based players who can fill in the gap in case there are lapses.
The NFF president urged Nigerians, especially the media, to support the team and to focus on the positive side of its activities in their news reports to ensure that the country qualifies for the tournament ahead of Egypt.
He said the current economic recession had made it impossible for the NFF to live up to its financial duties especially as it regards the payment of the coaches’ salaries and players allowances and bonuses.
Pinnick noted that the football house was on the verge of offsetting the Eagles match bonuses incurred during the AFCON qualifying match against Swaziland and that of the CHAN Eagles which were incurred in Rwanda.