President of the Nigeria Football President, Amaju Pinnick believes hosting the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations between Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone will be an occasion for the country to underscore its leadership role on the African continent.
Nigeria on Wednesday agreed to host the Afcon qualifier involving both teams after the Confederation of African Football compelled Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to find alternative venues for their home game owing to the spread of the Ebola virus pandemic.
The NFF boss expressed his delight getting the go ahead from the Federal Ministry of Health to host the match fixed for September 6.
“We are delighted to announce that we have received the go-ahead from the Federal Ministry of Health to host the match,” Pinnick said.
“The Sierra Leoneans will come with a delegation of 32, made up of mostly overseas –based professionals, technical crew and officials of the SLFA, to be led by its president, Isha Johansen.
“We are happy about the go-ahead because, once more, our country has an opportunity to underscore its leadership role on the African continent, nay global sphere.
“The NFF has initiated discussions with the Lagos State Government and the Rivers State Government on preventive measures, such as keeping Sierra Leone’s small delegation in a special hotel where they can be monitored at all times.”
He also said that the country has nothing to lose agreeing to host the game; instead it will be a big boost for Nigeria football.
“We are talking of hosting the African champion team, with the likes of African Player of the Year, Yaya Toure and others, and this will certainly earn us commendation from Caf and Fifa,” he concluded.
Sierra Leone sit at the base of Group I after losing their first game 1-0 to Sudan courtesy of Ramadan Alagab’s strike in the 77thh minute at the Khartoum Stadium, Khartoum on June 14.