Jul 6 2012
by Pius Ayinor
The team with arguably the largest fan base in Nigeria did not give any specific reason for their decision but it may not be unconnected to security challenges in Nigeria especially in the northern parts of the country and Abuja. The Federal Capital Territory recorded another bomb blast barely three days before the club changed their plans.
Even though the state of Abuja National Stadium had come up in the series of talks for the visit, the state of security in Nigeria was a challenge at the onset as it topped the list of conditions for the visit. It was for that reason that they initially chose to play only in Lagos and a few southern cities with Calabar on top of the list. The tour was later practically cut down to only a match in Abuja to manage their visit more manageable but since that decision Kano, Yobe, Borno, Kaduna and Bauchi states have witnessed heavy bombings.
Arsenal marketing director Angus Kinnear said, “Bringing a top-level club to an international market is always complicated and logistically challenging. With the proposed match in Nigeria planned for early August, we could not get comfortable on everything needed to satisfy our requirements, so we have reluctantly taken the decision to postpone the team’s visit.
“We have a huge and loyal following in Africa, and we are sorry that the team will not be visiting this summer. However, we have a long-term commitment to Nigeria and we are already making plans for a visit next summer.
“In addition, we also have some exciting forthcoming activities planned with our commercial partners in Nigeria — Emirates, Airtel and Malta Guinness, which will kick off in the next few weeks.”
Emirates are the presenting partner of the Arsenal 2012 Tour and Boutros Boutros, divisional senior vice-president of corporate communications said, “Emirates shares Arsenal’s disappointment that the team’s visit to Nigeria has been postponed. We look forward to working with Arsenal to bring the club closer to its loyal Nigerian fans through new initiatives over the coming months.”
And also on Thursday, the Confederation of African Football staged the 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations preliminary draw at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 30 teams to play the final qualification rounds of 2013 Africa Nations Cup to be hosted by South Africa from January 19 to February 10, 2013.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are billed to face Lone Star of Liberia in the final stage of the qualifiers.
All the teams will now play a two-legged knockout system of home and away games played between September 7 and October 12. The final draw for the tournament itself will take place on October 26 after the 15 teams must have emerged from these final pairings.
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