Nigerian league club El Kanemi Warriors will on Sunday play their first game in over three years at their home ground of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram Islamist sect.
Maiduguri, capital of northeastern Borno state and origin of the Jihadist sect, has witnessed dozens of gun and bomb attacks in which thousands have been killed.
An estimated 20,000 people have been killed since Boko Haram began its campaign of violence in 2009 to carve out a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.
More than 2.6 million people have fled their homes since, but some of the internally displaced have recently begun returning after the Nigerian military captured swathes of territory back from the insurgents.
“Yes, we have got approval to play our match on Sunday against Shooting Stars in Maiduguri,” said El Kanemi club spokesman Anthony Obaseki.
“We commend (Borno State) Governor Kashim Shettima for ensuring we are back home and we will justify all the efforts he put in to bring us back home by getting better results henceforth.”
Obaseki said the club’s fans are excited they will now watch top-class football action in Maiduguri.
“Everybody is excited we will now play our home games in Maiduguri. We expect another full house against Shooting Stars on Sunday, just as (we) had when we played the state Federation Cup final recently where we had more than 8,000 spectators in our stadium, which has a capacity for 10,000.
El Kanemi are 14th in the 20-team table with 11 points after 10 rounds of matches
Rasheed Balogun, the general manager of Shooting Stars said that the League Management Company has informed his team to be in Maiduguri for the match.
“We have been informed by the league our match against El Kanemi on Sunday will be in Maiduguri and the team have already left for Maiduguri,” he said.