‘Adokie Aimiesiamaka Stadium can host AFCON, CAF Confederation Cup final’
Some Nigerian football stakeholders believe the newly refurbished Adokie Aimiesiamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, has the facilities to successfully host the African Cup of Nations, which Nigeria is bidding to co-host with Benin Republic, as well as the final of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Last week, CAF officials visited the stadium to ascertain the state of its facilities ahead of Rivers United’s Confederation Cup quarterfinal against Young Africans of Tanzania. After the exercise, the inspectors gave the stadium a pass mark, although they advised continuous maintenance of its facilities.
At the stadium as observer during the inspection was Chief of Staff to Sports Minister, Alhaji Abba Yola, who commended Rivers State government for effecting changes in the facility, saying Nigeria now has a ground to ask CAF to approve the venue for Rivers United.
According to Yola, who said the stadium could host any game, whether local or international, “the pitch looks as if the turf has been relayed and I can tell you without mincing words that this is the type of pitch you see in great footballing nations. I commend the Rivers State government for the tremendous work it is doing on this stadium,” he said.
Yola advised the stadium managers to continue improving on the facilities, saying the Adokie Aimiesiamaka Stadium can host the CAF Confederation Cup final if the facility remains in excellent state.
Yola, who was in Port Harcourt as Federal Ministry of Sports representative on the inspection team, said the Federal Government would work to ensure that CAF approves the stadium for the Confederation Cup quarterfinal and subsequent games of the competition.
He said: “When Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, heard that CAF has given Rivers United a lifeline to play at the Adokie Stadium, he was excited and said that it is now time for the Federal Government, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Rivers State government to team up to put in place, whatever CAF wants in the stadium.
“The minister said he would speak with Rivers State governor to perfect whatever CAF requests. Already, Governor Nyesom Wike has promised that whatever CAF needs would be put in place before the quarterfinals. So, we are hopeful that CAF will approve the venue, not only for Rivers United’s matches, but also for other games.”
IMC general manager, who was also at the stadium as an observer, echoed Yola’s optimism that the stadium would pass CAF’s test, saying that Nigerians should commend Rivers State government for the job it has done on the facility.
“Without prejudice to the CAF representative here, on our won side, we will admit that there is massive improvement in the facilities. It is good to go, but the final decision rests with CAF.”