Abuja National Stadium
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Controversy has trailed Arsenal’s Summer Tour of Nigeria as the manager of the National Stadium, Abuja, said he has not been briefed on the visit of the English Premier League side.
On Wednesday, Arsenal confirmed it would play against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a pre-season match in Abuja on 5 August.
But Katmwan Dungse, who manages the National Stadium, refused to comment on the tour because he said he had not got any communications from the organizers.
There is substantial doubt about the feasibility of the tour to be held in Abuja as the National Stadium pitch has remained in poor state since the start of the year due to lack of water.
It was then reported that the pitch turned bumpy because stadium grounds men could not water the grass following the stealing of the cables that supplied electricity to the stadium by thieves.
Members of the House of Representatives Sports Committee were told that over N70 million would be required to re-grass the pitch, during their visit in March to assess the damages the stadium.
The patchy state of the pitch forced the Super Eagles to play their last two international home matches against Namibia and Rwanda in Calabar.
Dungse, Thursday refused to drawn into any guess if the pitch would be up to standard when Arsenal visit the country in the first week of August.
On our visit to the stadium grounds men were seen removing pebbles from the pitch.
But the battle to reclaim the lush green look of the pitch can be compared to a race against time, as the task is enormous.
Sources informed us that workers would first need to weed, rake and invite a surveyor to level the pitch before they can now plant new nursery of grass.
Afterward, the pitch will be treated with chemicals to cushion it from the effect of pests.
While Arsenal will be in Nigeria in five weeks, officials say they will need about seven weeks to put the pitch in top state.
The visit to Nigeria will conclude Arsenal's pre-season tour after playing in both China and Malaysia in July.