by Dare Lawal
Oftentimes we hear that when a Nigerian sports team travels to some African nation for a game, they are given a less than befitting reception. Substandard hotels, delays and other discomforts unfavourable for bringing out the best from the athletes are strewn their way.
But that has never been the Nigerian way. Our guests are usually treated with respect and well taken care of.
It seems all of that is in the past now, as the Nigerian famous hospitality has given way to neglect if the experience of the Kenyan national football team currently in the country to play a World Cup qualifying game against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, is anything to go by.
According to a report by Goal.com,
The Nigeria Football Federation abandoned the visiting Kenyan national team to its fate on Wednesday. The east Africans will play against the Super Eagles in Saturday’s 2014 World Cup qualification match in Calabar, Cross River State.
The Harambee Stars arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos via a Kenya Airways flight on Wednesday afternoon.
On arrival at the airport, there was not one high ranking member of the Nigeria Football Federation to receive the team for a game of such international magnitude.
Expecting to be ferried to Calabar straight away in order to begin preparations for the crucial game, the east Africans were told that the only flight that goes to the city had departed and that they would need to wait till Thursday.
They then requested that a plane be chartered for them but did not get any response from an NFF official named Alataka who was communicating with them via telephone. They said that his mobile was unreachable for prolonged periods.
The team was later taken to the Silver Grandeur Hotel, around Isolo, to lodge for the night. According to the Kenyan head of delegation Hussein Terry, the hotel owned by NFF vice president Chief Mike Umeh is “a two star hotel” and it contravened the Caf/Fifa statutes that say any visiting international team must be accommodated in at least a four star hotel.
Terry also stated that as head of delegation, a separate saloon car should have been provided for him. However, the NFF did not do such and he had to share the team’s Coaster bus.
The Kenyans also complained of being left without a security official accompanying them.
The Football Kenya Federation sent a letter of protest to the NFF. In the letter made available to Goal.com, the federation’s secretary general Michael Esokwa asked the NFF to urgently address the needs of the visiting team according to agreed terms.
While not wanting to waste the opportunity of acclimatising in the humid weather, they decided to find a football field to work out. They were taken to the Ajao Estate Primary School in Oshodi.
There the team, under the watchful eyes of coach Adel Amrouche, did light jogging and stretching exercises on the dusty grounds of the primary school.
Amrouche later told Goal.com that he wasn’t fazed by the poor reception that his team had been given. “T.I.A,” he said.
“This is Africa,” he explained before walking into the team bus.
With the less than hospitable treatment that the east Africans have been given, many of the team officials are already talking about using it to turn the table against their opponents in Saturday’s encounter.
“We will spoil your party,” one official said. “That you’re the African champions makes us more motivated to defeat you.”
An accompanying journalist told Goal.com: “I love your country if this is how they treat visitors,” he said with sarcasm
The Kenyans will hope to get space on the Arik Air flight that departs for Calabar on Thursday in order to settle down in the Canaan City ahead of their game on Saturday.
See pictures of the Kenyan team in training.