From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has sent an advance party to Cameroon almost two months ahead of the return leg of the FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Indomitable Lions.
Second vice president of the federation and the chairman League Management Company (LMC), Mallam Shehu Dikko, who made the disclosure after declaring open a coaching clinic in Abuja, also revealed that the footfall federation is waiting for the Ministry of Finance to release the fund for the games already approved by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo.
Updating Nigerians on the readiness of the federation for the two-legged World Cup encounter, the LMC boss said: “Of course, everything is in order. It is part of the reason Gernot Rohr is all over Europe to talk and encourage the players on preseason to do well since we don’t have any friendly match before that game. He is pushing all of them on to be mentally ready for the game.
“At the federation level, the technical committee members are doing their best by calling and talking to the players on telephone. The federation president is also calling and encouraging them on the importance of winning the game.
“He told them to do their preseason very well because they may not play up to five matches before that game. I can tell you that all hands are on deck. In fact, the advance party has even traveled to Cameroon to do all the reservations ahead of the preparations for the second leg encounter.
“Everything about the Uyo game is sorted out already and even now we have crisis on our hands in the goalkeeping department of Ikeme’s health, the technical adviser is already turning it to advantage and using it to motivate the players. He is telling them to play and win the game for Carl and even Carl himself has been calling them to win the game for him.
“The coach is even proposing to bring in additional trainers to join the home-based team to work specifically with the goalkeeper trainers to get a pool of available keepers to select from. So, there is no problem about the match.”
On the arrangements the federation is making to overcome the challenges of raising fund for the matches, Mallam Dikko said: “What I can tell you is that even before the match against South Africa, we have to thank the federal government especially the Acting President and the Minister of Sports for ensuring the approval of all the funds required for the game, including that of Cameroon and Zambia.
“Government is keen to ensure that Nigeria participate in the FIFA World Cup. The approval even came before the game against South Africa and I am sure that before the game against Cameroon, the fund should be made available and all the allowances owed the players could be settled.
“I can tell you that government through the Acting President and the Sports Minister have done its part by the approval, it is left for the finance ministry to ensure that fund is available before that time. We don’t want money to dominate discussions going forward until we play Zambia in November.
“So I can tell you that money for the games have been sorted out including that of CHAN. We know that approval and release are entirely different things but when you have approval, you can wait for the releases,” he said.