PTF to decide spectators’ fate in Nigeria, Sierra Leone clash
• Excitement grips Edo as Benin awaits Super Eagles arrival
• Spectators to be tested for COVID-19
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has the final say on the possibility of football fans in Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin to cheer Super Eagles in their game against the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone.
At the weekend, the Edo State government announced its intention to throw the gates open for fans to watch the game slated for November 13 at the refurbished stadium. But the PTF has another say on this.
A source at the PTF told The Guardian that the task force would look at the implications of opening the gates to fans when COVID-19 still present clear and present danger.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said, “we may or may not allow fans inside the stadium based on the recommendations of experts.
“So many countries have restarted their football without fans, so we must know where we stand in this COVID-19 before deciding what to do with the gates.”
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) at the weekend revealed that players of the Super Eagles and Leone Stars, as well as their officials, would be subjected to COVID-19 screening before the match.
NFF Director, Media, Ademola Olajire, told The Guardian that the federation is closely working with Edo State government to ensure the success of the match.
Olajire said, “The government of Edo State is fully involved and nothing would be left to chance in the arrangements. As for the spectators, it is not in our hands.
“We will seek clarifications from the PTF during the week. Definitely, players and officials will be subjected to COVID -19 tests.”
Meanwhile, business activities among other things are in high spirits in Edo State, as fans await the arrival of the Super Eagles.
A cross-section of business owners, who spoke to journalists at the weekend in Benin City, said they are all excited as the match is sure to record a large turnout of people to the area, which in turn will lead to an increase in business activities.
They commended Governor Godwin Obaseki’s government for revamping the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, noting that the hosting right for the match was made possible because of the new look of the stadium and upgrade of all facilities, including the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology.
A hotel owner acknowledged the positive impact of the match on economic activities in the metropolitan city, noting they have recorded an increase in inquiries from people traveling to the state to watch the match and would need to lodge in their facilities.
Mrs. Ovie Okundia, a food vendor, couldn’t hide her joy with the prospects of making huge sales.
“I am very happy because I know I will sell more on that day than I used to in the past, as people from all over the world will be in Benin to watch Nigeria defeat Sierra Leone,” she said.
“We thank our ‘Wake and See Governor’ who through his infrastructural projects has continued to put smiles on the faces of Edo people. We will continue to support and pray for him as he continues with his people-centric reforms and policies in the second. ”
Another businessman in the metropolis, Osamede Igbinovia, noted: “As you can see, we have gone to market to stock up our stores in anticipation of the match on November 13.”