Paul Arkwright

Demola Ojo

As the build up towards the prestigious international friendly between Nigeria and England at Wembley Stadium gathers steam, principal actors in both countries are working towards an exciting occasion with the recent visit of Nigeria Football Federation stalwarts to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright.

The Super Eagles and the Three Lions will lock horns on Saturday, June 2, in what will be the Eagles’ penultimate friendly match before flying to the World Cup finals in Russia.

NFF President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and the 2nd Vice President, Shehu Dikko, met with the envoy in Abuja where they were informed that the match would be used as an opportunity to organize a number of events both in the United Kingdom and Nigeria.

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.

“Let 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 Cup. More 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,” said Arkwright.

Pinnick told Arkwright that the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom is 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.

“We 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 Nigeria’s first match at the FIFA World Cup, and 16 days before England’s first match in Russia.

“Ours are two countries that have so much in common. We believe this match will go a long way in strengthening England-Nigeria relations in several areas.”