The Nigeria Football Association has dismissed the protest by Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to world soccer governing body Fifa to ask for their decisive Group F World Cup qualifier against Nigeria to be moved from Calabar as well as change the referee to handle the game, saying the claims are unfounded.
Malawi trail Nigeria by two points and must win to progress to the play-offs.
“There is security risk in Calabar where the match will be played, as reported by the Commonwealth Commission. The venue of the match is risky to our delegation and we would like Fifa to shift the match to Abuja or to a neutral country where our delegation will be safe,” FAM protested in a letter to Fifa
But Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Association, Chris Green, told reporters the reasons for Malawi protests were baseless.
“It’s quite unfortunate that they (Malawians) had written to FIFA in respect of security concerns in Calabar,” he said.
“I do not think we have any security concerns. I think it’s one of such gimmicks being employed by the coach of Malawi, Tom SaintFeld. I think it doesn’t hold water,” he added. “We have played many qualifying matches in Calabar and we have not had any security challenges.”
Green said Calabar was Nigeria’s tourism destination, which had hosted international events such as carnivals and other tourism-related events without any security problems.
“As I speak, we have not received any letter from FIFA in respect of the purported protest letter by Malawi,” he added. ” Its all part of the gimmicks that people play. It’s a mind game, but we will put in our all.”
Green said Nigeria would use the friendly against South Africa on Aug. 14 as a warm up match to prepare against Malawi.
“We do not want to talk too much on the match. We are going to talk on the field of play,” he said.
FAM statetement signed by its CEO Suzgho Myirenda, also protested over the appointment of Hamada el Moussa Nampiandraza as referee for the match, who it believes gave a “below par” performance at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
“The track record of the appointed referee (Hamada El Moussa Nampiandraza) with Malawi and his perfomance at the 2013 Afcon was not good and we also question decision of early disclosure of the match official,” said FAM in the statement.
FAM suspect the early announcement of the game’s man in-charge can lead to match fixing and corruption.
“Fam would like to register this protest with your office so that Fifa can intervene urgently and advise on the matter accordingly,” the statement said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :