THE Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has disclosed that the country would consider hosting the 2015 African Nations Cup if approached by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The original host of the competition, Morocco, has asked CAF To postpone the tournament usually staged in January and February. If their request was not approved, the north African country says it would withdraw from hosting the event.
CAF has already sounded out Egypt, South Africa and Ghana to see if they could host the event as earlier scheduled.
In a report by Goal.com Monday, NFF First Vice President, Seyi Adewunmi, disclosed that Nigeria could accept to host the tournament despite fears of the possibility of teams from Ebola-ravaged countries qualifying for the competition and bringing along their supporters.
Nigeria was Monday certified Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO), six weeks after the last case of the disease was reported and this could prompt renewed interest from international organizations.
“I think we are interested [in hosting the Afcon],” Akinwunmi said.
“It is not strictly the purview of the NFF alone but we have been asked [if we can host the competition] and we have said yes, why not?
“I think that the National Sports Commission (NSC) or the Federal Government is looking at the possibility of hosting the tournament,” said Akinwunmi, who disclosed that CAF had not yet written to Nigeria.
South Africa have already turned down the opportunity to host the tournament with Safa president, Danny Jordaan, saying: “The Afcon 2015 tournament will not be held here. That issue doesn’t exist. Caf must discuss this matter with Morocco.”
With the Super Eagles struggling to qualify for the 2015 tournament, hosting the competition would give them automatic qualification to defend the title they won in South Africa last year.
It could also be a way for Nigeria to show its leadership role on the continent after successfully curtailing the spread of the disease, something for which it has already earned the praise of the international community.
Meanwhile, the NFF says it has concluded all arrangements to send the best of Nigerian referees to the United Kingdom for a special refresher course beginning in the first week of December.
The three –week capacity building exercise is aimed at preparing the best of Nigerian arbiters to become better officiating officials in the coming years, and to enhance their opportunities of commanding greater recognition by international soccer bodies.
According to NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, this move is part of the vision of the federation’s new executive committee to enhance the capacity of our referees for the kind of prominence on the international stage that a leading football powerhouse like Nigeria deserves.
“The new NFF Board is determined to train and retrain our referees, as well as coaches and administrators with an eye on better output. There is no reason why Nigerian referees should not be holding their own globally. We have the men and women, and all they need do is enhance their knowledge of modern techniques of the profession.
“In another six months, we will get another company to sponsor another batch of referees to another refresher course. It is a continuous exercise. But selection of beneficiaries will be based on performance on the domestic scene.”
Pinnick says one of the cardinal programmes of his administration is to improve refereeing in the country, and he sees no reason why a Nigerian referee should not be on duty at the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.