By Oviri kelvin
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has approved the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as the venue for the second leg play-off between Nigeria and arch-rivals, Ghana.
CAF, in a letter, addressed to the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Mohammed Sanusi, stated that the stadium meets its criteria after conducting a proper assessment and inspection of its facilities.
Furthermore, CAF affirmed that the FIFA World Cup qualifiers playoff will be taking place from Match 21 to Match 29.
CAF said: “Reference to the participation of the national team of Nigeria in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers play-off rounds which will take place from Match 21 to March 29, following the stadium assessment and inspection process conducted by CAF, kindly find below the decision on the venue selected by our association.
”Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, approved.
“Please note that the approved stadium will be set as the venue to host the match Nigeria versus Ghana related to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers playoff round.
“Nonetheless, please find attached in Annex A the inspection comments and remarks addressed in the coming period by your association, to guarantee that the stadium is maintained in the list of CAF-approved stadiums for senior competitions.
“Among other aspects mentioned in the report, the stadium management is requested to ensure that the playing surface area, floodlights, and the dressing room are brought to the required level to host this important match,” CAF added.
Meanwhile, CAF has disapproved of Ghana’s request to move the first leg of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers playoff round from Accra Sports Stadium to Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi.
CAF statement reads: “The FIFA World Cup 2022 preliminary competition regulations in its article 21 venues, kick-off times and training sessions stipulate that the venues of matches shall be set by the host association and/or by the confederation, as applicable, and the matches may only be played in stadiums that have been inspected and approved by the confederation concerned.
“The opponents and the FIFA general secretariat shall be notified by the host association and/or by the confederation, as applicable, at least three months before the match in question is due to be played.
“24th of December 2021 was the deadline set by CAF for the participating national associations to select and communicate to CAF their preferred venue for the play-off round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers.
“On the 23rd of December 2021, GFA informed CAF that Cape Coast Stadium was the venue selected for the play-off round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers.
“Based on the venue selection received from each of the participating national associations, CAF has timely concluded the assessment of the selected stadium(s) and communicated to FIFA the venue decisions for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers play-off round.
“Considering that match day is in less than 30 days, CAF is not in a position to delay any further confirmation of the match venue. As you are aware, the selection of the venue, respective date, and time of the match, has to be set well in advance having a direct impact on the preparation of match logistics and operations by all the concerned parties.
“Besides, please note that Kumasi Sports Stadium is currently non-homologated by CAF to host international matches since it has been under renovations and no CAF inspection was conducted to the stadium to re-assess the level of stadium compliance.
“Considering the above, the request for change of venue is not accepted, hence the match Ghana Vs. Nigeria for the play-off round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers should be maintained at Cape Coast Stadium.
“In case your association reiterates the position to change the venue since there is no other approved venue in Ghana, your national team will be requested to play its upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 African qualifiers play-off round match in an approved stadium outside its territory, and the venue must be selected from among the stadiums approved by CAF,” the statement added.