The Nigeria Amputee Football Federation (NAFF) has announced the start of open camping ahead of the Cup of African Nations for Amputee Football (CANAF) tournament scheduled for Angola later this month even as it remains unsure of participating due to a paucity of funds.
Nigeria’s Amputee Football team also known as the “Special Eagles” were invited to participate in the 10-nation tournament late last year after the team made a first-ever appearance at the Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico last October.
Eligible players are expected to report to the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium, Lagos today for an open screening exercise from which coaches will select the Nations Cup squad.
However, while preparations are currently ongoing for the tournament, there is uncertainty regarding the team’s ability to participate with funding from the Ministry of Youth and Sports not yet secure for the competition which kicks off on 30 September.
Securing funding for international tournaments has always been an uphill task for the Amputee Football team and their trip to the World Cup in Mexico last year was only possible after a public fundraising drive and donations from well-meaning Nigerians.
In an appeal to the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, President of NAFF Isa Suleiman said “financial and material resources” are needed from the ministry to help the Federation prosecute the Nations Cup and consolidate on the gains of their maiden World Cup appearance last year.
“We are appealing to the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to assist the Amputee National Football Team with both financial and material resources to enable it make an appreciable appearance at the fifth Cup of Nations for Amputee Football in Angola,” Suleiman told busybuddiesng.com in an exclusive chat.
“This is because the Federation wants to concentrate on the gains of its appearance at the Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico which has enabled Nigeria to be in the international ranking and in the African ranking.”
Suleiman said while the Federation continued to wait on the Sports Ministry for the necessary finances, arrangements are on course for players to resume camp and start training.
“The Federation on its part has made adequate arrangements for the athletes to be camped,” he said.
“We’ve gotten a good pitch for the athletes. Initially, they were training on a sandy pitch but we said no, if they are coming to camp, they are going to use the Legacy Pitch at the National Stadium [Lagos] which has been approved by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports.”
The Cup of African Nations for Amputee Football (CANAF) is a biennial tournament organised by the Amputee Football Federation for Africa (AFFA) to determine Africa’s best team and also serves as part of qualifiers for the World Amputee Football Federation (WAFF) organised Amputee World Cup.
The 2019 CANAF is billed to hold from 30 September to 14 October in Angola.
Other teams scheduled to compete at the tournament in addition to hosts Angola include Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Cameroon.
Liberia are defending champions and have won the last three editions of the tournament while Ghana won the inaugural edition hosted in 2007 in Sierra Leone.