2021 AFCON Qualifier: NFF Name Venue For Nigeria Vs Sierra Leone

The 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and Sierra Leone next month will be played at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City according to reports in Thisday.

The Super Eagles face the Leone Stars in a double header with the first encounter scheduled for 13 November in Nigeria before both teams play again in Free Town four days later.

There had been speculation about where the Nigeria leg of the encounter will be played with the Nest of Champions in Uyo and the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba mooted for the match alongside the Benin Stadium.

But according to Thisday, the Nigeria Football Federation and the Eagles technical crew have now settled for the 19,500 capacity Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium which last hosted a national team game in 2011 when Nigeria played Botswana.

The stadium which fell into disrepair after being underused for years was renovated recently and was scheduled to host the National Sports Festival before Covid-19 struck.

It also boasts Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology and is the only stadium in Nigeria with VAR capabilities.

“The NFF officials have confirmed to us that Super Eagles are going to play their AFCON 2022 qualifier against Sierra Leone at our Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium here in Benin City,” Thisday quotes an unnamed source as saying.

“We are really excited by the news, most especially as it will be the very first sporting event to take place at the stadium since it was refurbished to host the 20th National Sports Festival in March but had to be postponed because of the outbreak of the Coronavirus worldwide.”

The encounter will be Nigeria’s first competitive outing this year and follows the friendly loss to Algeria and draw with Tunisia in the October international window.

The game will likely be held behind closed doors after the Federal Government in lifting the ban on contact sports, mandated that all stadiums be locked to fans in accordance with the country’s Covid-19 protocols for sports.

Nigeria lead Group L and are well placed to qualify for the continental showpiece having won their first two qualifiers against the Benin Republic in Uyo and Lesotho in Maseru.

The three-time African champions will round up their qualifying campaign against the Squirrels of Benin away from home and Crocodiles of Lesotho in Nigeria after the double header against Sierra Leone.