Sports

AFCON 2017 qualifier: No chartered flight for Eagles

.Pharaoh’s jet cleared to land in Kaduna
By GEORGE ALUO and ROMANUS UGWU, Abuja

THE Super Eagles may end up literally crawling to Alexandria, Egypt for the return leg of their AFCON 2017 back to back qualifiers against Egypt, no thanks to the nation’s biting economic down turn.
The NFF disclosed yesterday that she is too cash strapped and can not afford a chartered flight for the team.
Interestingly, this would be the very first time since the coming on board of the present NFF leadership that the national team would be travelling out by a passenger plane.
Daily Sunsports gathered yesterday that the NFF had resolved to jettison the initial plan of flying the Eagles by chartered flight to Alexandria. While the NFF is making alternative travel plans, the Pharaohs are said to have secured clearance from Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to land in Kaduna with their chartered flight. The Egyptians who had already named their final 23-man squad for the game are billed to fly in three clear days ahead of the encounter.
Daily Sunsports gathered that the Eagles would after the Kaduna first leg leave same night or early Saturday morning by road for Abuja to enable them catch an Egypt air flight on Saturday morning. The team would on arrival in Cairo Saturday night move to Alexandria most likely by road, a trip that is about an hour only to play on Tuesday.
Going by this arrangement, the Eagles would after the Friday first leg catch no rest until Sunday barely 48 hours to the return leg on Tuesday.
NFF President, Pinnick Amaju while confirming that the soccer federation couldn’t afford to fly the Eagles by chartered flight as the soccer federation under his leadership had been doing, noted that the NFF would, however, be saving about N35m with the plan B she is putting in place.
“The present economic situation has made things difficult for us. We have looked at our options and Arik our partners are going through a tough time in the sense that they are looking  at whatever they are doing in foreign currency. Even if they say that they are going to take 250, 000 dollars to fly the team there, how much is that in naira? It’s over N60 million. It was initially about 290,000 dollars because they have to pay landing and parking charges in Alexandria, but we looked at the other option that Egypt Air has three flights from Nigeria every day. They have from Kano, Abuja and Lagos; we are going to be saving a minimum of N35 million and I don’t think this government will want to hear that we are extravagant. So, it is about the economics of scale,” Amaju said.
Former NFF scribe, Dr Tijani Yusuf while reacting to the situation simply said he wished the NFF and Eagles the best of luck.
He pointed out that the country gives very little to sports and wants to get result via sheer luck.
“There is a limit luck and the array of stars you have can carry you. When we win by sheer luck companies that invested nothing will start congratulating the team. Big corporate bodies in the country do little or nothing for sports. This informs why the NFF can’t even afford to conveniently fly the team to Egypt. I wish them the best of luck,” Yusuf said

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