British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has insisted that the high-profile international friendly between the Super Eagles and Englandâ€™s Three Lions was more than just a game as the European team was looking forward to the June 2 date with enthusiasm.
â€œLet me assure you that England is taking this match very serious. It is more than just a game; it is a big preparatory game towards the FIFA World Cupâ€observed the high commissioner when Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) top officials paid his a courtesy visit in Abuja yesterday.
He recalled the historical ties between both countries.
â€œMore than that, the historical ties between our two countries are there to be considered, so it will also serve to strengthen and enhance relations and good collaboration between our countries,â€ said Arkwright.
Earlier, NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick who was accompanied on the visit by 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko informed Arkwright that the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom was also involved in efforts to ensure the match is a huge success, coming less than two weeks before the opening match of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.
â€œWe appreciate the excellent cordial relations between our two countries and that is one of the reasons this is more than just a match. It is coming up only two weeks before Nigeriaâ€™s first match at the FIFA World Cup, and 16 days before Englandâ€™s first match in Russia.
â€œOurs two countries have so much in common. We believe this match will go a long way in strengthening England-Nigeria relations in several areas,â€ stressed the NFF chief.
Also present at the meeting was Louise Edwards, who is Second Secretary, Political of the British High Commission in Nigeria.
The Super Eagles and the Three Lions will lock horns at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 2nd June, in what will be the Eaglesâ€™ penultimate friendly match before flying to the World Cup finals in Russia.
Officially, both countries have clashed only twice previously at senior level: one competitive match and one friendly.
The friendly was on 16th November 1994, when the Three Lions pipped the Eagles 1-0 at old Wembley Stadium thanks to a first half header by David Platt. The second time was a group phase tie at the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals in Korea/Japan, where both teams ended it 0-0 at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka.