The Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), Sola Aiyepeku, says the continued hosting of the Super Eagles’ matches will ensure Nigeria’s qualification for the finals of Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Aiyepeku made the remark in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos on Thursday, ahead of the Super Eagles 2022 World Cup qualifier against the Lone Stars of Liberia on Friday.
The match will take place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
Aiyepeku described Lagos as the fourth largest economy in Africa, blessed with the right infrastructure to host such an important match.
“Lagos is for excellence and aside this, we can’t deny the strategic location of this city as the heartbeat of Nigeria’s economy, reputably the fourth largest economy in Africa.
“In Lagos, we have the busiest airport.
“For example, if the Super Eagles will have to play in other state, they will have to transit from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, because they will first land here to connect other states.
“Lagos boasts of ready-made infrastructure and logistics that will make the Super Eagles players comfortable, relax and in good standing for successful campaigns in their matches.
“The economy of Lagos and its infrastructure already transcend football because we are talking about things on ground, facilities that can absorb any pressure.
“Lagos should be home to the Eagles,” he said.
Aiyepeku noted that the mood of the Super Eagles, whenever they were in Lagos, suggested that they felt more at home playing in the state.
According to the LSSC chief, the state always gives some other incentives.
“Another issue is that the players themselves always feel at home in Lagos; most of them reside in Lagos; they have their families here and other things.
“We, as hosts, also ensure that we have added incentives to aid their playing here. Last time, we provided and financed their trip via boats to Benin Republic for the AFCON qualifiers.
“Also, we ensure that they are more relaxed while they get to visit the governor and also have lunch with the officials. All these we are doing from the concept that they are professional footballers.
“In terms of expectations, the government in Lagos is ready to meet them, which is the reason we provided the needed pitch.
“The players were excited to see such an excellent natural grass pitch,” he said.
Aiyepeku, however, noted that having Lagos as a successful host was made possible by the sports-loving Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who made sure that things were put in good shape.
“We are here today to tell this story but all thanks to our sports-loving Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who gave all the needed support.
“We need to enforce strict COVID-19 rules and crowd control. We have stepped up our security arrangements; so, we advise those who do not have match tickets to stay away.
“Nigeria is one of about four lucky countries that have up to 5,000 spectators allowed to watch matches. No thanks to the third wave of COVID-19.
“Other countries only have just 1,000 or 1,500; so, we don’t want to ruin our chances.
“We implore our Lagos fans to please stay off the stadium and support the team at home, because our law enforcement officers will be mandated to ensure decorum, ” he said.