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FIFA president’s visit will boost Nigerian football, says Oganwu

By Gowon Akpodonor
15 July 2016   |   1:46 am
The first university graduate to play for the Green Eagles, Dr. John Oganwu, says the coming of FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, would open a new door of opportunities for Nigerian football.
PHOTO:AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI

PHOTO:AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI

The first university graduate to play for the Green Eagles, Dr. John Oganwu, says the coming of FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, would open a new door of opportunities for Nigerian football.

Infantino became FIFA’s ninth president when he replaced Sepp Blatter, who had been president of the soccer governing body since 1998. Infantino was elected in February this year.

He is expected to arrive Nigeria on Sunday July 24, on a two-day working visit alongside FIFA’s General Secretary, Fatma Samoura.

During the visit to Nigeria, Infantino is expected to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja before meeting with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos.

The visiting FIFA President and Secretary General will also meet a host of African Football Association Presidents and attend an evening session with Corporate Nigeria in Lagos. He will also be a guest at the final of the NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championship.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Oganwu, a major promoter of grassroots football, said the visit is coming at the appropriate time.

On his 46th birthday, Infantino made his first visit as FIFA President to a Member Association, and his debut destination was South Sudan, FIFA’s newest Member Association.

While in South Sudan, the FIFA President attended the CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between South Sudan and Republic of Benin, which the visitors won 2-1. From South Sudan, Infantino continued his three-day trip to Africa with visits to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Gabon.

Nigeria will be the fourth African country to receive him less than six months after his election, and Oganwu is of the opinion that the FIFA President is indirectly telling Nigerians that the country is a force to be reckoned with as far as African football is concerned.

“He is indirectly sending a message to Nigerians that we must do everything to qualify for Russia 2018 World Cup,” Oganwu said. “As I pointed out earlier, this visit is timely. It will solidify the Amaju Pinnick’s leadership of the NFF and our football will never remain the same at the end of the day.”