by Laureta Umoh
Ex Super Eagles captain Austin Okocha has passed a vote of no confidence on the quality of the playing surface at the UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
Nigeria lost their 2015 AFCON qualifiers at home 2-3 to DR Congo last weekend at the venue and many have come to question the quality of the pitch which has not been taken care of by the authority in charge of the stadium.
While watching the game against South Africa on Wednesday, the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder was quick to point out the difference between the stadiums, in Cape Town and in Calabar.
“(Nigeria versus South Africa). Beautiful compared to the Calabar match. How green grass can transform (and) beautify a match. Also allows players to express themselves,” Jay Jay wrote on twitter via his account @IAmOkocha.
Okocha’s comments about the pitch have not gone down well with the Cross River State government, owners of the UJ Esuene stadium, as the State Commissioner for Sports Patrick Ugbe disagrees that the pitch in Calabar is not in bad shape.
“The pitch is in good condition. It is work in progress. We are in the process of fixing the pitch,” Ugbe told supersport.com.
He also revealed that the Cross Rivers State government only allowed the Super Eagles to play on the pitch against Congo “in the interest of the nation”.
“It was in the interest of the nation that we allowed the match to be played on that pitch in the first place because we are obviously working on it.
“The coaches (of Nigeria and Congo) saw the pitch before the match and they expressed satisfaction with the state of the pitch so I don’t know what the issue is all of a sudden”.
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