By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- FOUR days to the World Cup Qualifiers match between the Super Eagles and the Chipolopolo of Zambia slated to take place in Lusaka Sunday, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Pinnick, yesterday told the Senate that the government has no fund to sponsor such event.
According to him, chartered flight arrangements had been made with Arik Air, adding that while the federation was able to secure accommodation in Protea Hotel, which is 10 minutes away from the stadium, it had not been able to pay for it.
Speaking when he appeared before the Senator Joseph Ogba led Senate Committee on Sports and Social Development, Pinnick lamented that lack of adequate funding was frustrating efforts by the NFF to operate efficiently and that “Nigeria was paired with former African Cup winner, Zambia; Algeria; and Cameroon that had won the Nations Cup four times, and they have been to the World Cup seven times. Algeria is the highest ranked team in Africa as we speak. It is a group that is called “group of death,” which means we need to intensify our preparations. We need to monitor our players and make sure that the ticket is made available.
“The good news is that I think we have a very sound technical crew and we also have a lot of our players doing very well, but the missing link is our financial incapacitation.
“Before now, we have sent representation to government for intervention because funds were not coming in from our sponsors we are still awaiting response from government and the match is in five days.
“We have been able to secure about 60 to 70 rooms but we need to make some payments so that they (the hotel) will keep the rooms open because everybody want to come and watch that game in Zambia.
“Beyond that, we are also looking at the next game against Algeria, which is coming up on the 9th of November in Uyo (Akwa Ibom State). The Algerian national team have informed me that they are coming with about two to three private jets that will be bringing their team.
“As it is, everybody is taking this championship or qualifiers very, very serious but, like I said, the good news about us is that we have a very good team and we have a strong technical crew.”