The Executive Governor of Cross River State, Senator (Professor) Ben Ayade has declared keen interest in hosting matches of the various National Teams – a service which his predecessor, Senator Liyel Imoke (CON) rendered with much aplomb and to immense national acclaim.

Former Governor Imoke received encomiums now and again for hosting matches of the Super Eagles and the Golden Eaglets between 2012 and 2014, as well as long campings for the Golden Eaglets ahead of their triumph at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Governor Ayade’s position was conveyed to the Nigeria Football Federation on Thursday by the Cross River State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Hon. Asu Okang.

Okang was at the NFF Secretariat, in company with the special adviser to Governor Ayade on youth empowerment, Prince Godswill Edward, to commiserate with the leadership on the death of the Federation’s Head of Protocol, Mr. Ibrahim Abubakar.

“Let me convey to you the condolence message of Governor Ben Ayade and the good people of Cross River State on the death of your Head of Protocol, Mr. Ibrahim Abubakar. It was a tragic incident that reverberated round the country and the football world.

“He was a very key officer and many people have spoken of his diligence and dedication. We pray that Nigeria football never again witness this kind of tragedy.”

Okang went ahead to reminiscence on Calabar’s warm and hospitable hosting of international matches, saying that the hospitality will even get better under the present administration.

“We have a sports –loving Governor, and he says I should assure you that you will never regret playing international matches in Calabar during his tenure.”

Responding, NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi expressed appreciation to Governor Ayade for his offer, and praised the efforts of the Imoke administration in hosting international matches without any hitch.

“I want to commend you for this condolence visit, and for the offer from Governor Ayade. We are much aware of the capacity of Cross River State in hosting matches of the National Teams.

“I will take your proposition to the NFF Executive Committee and get back to you. One thing I can say for sure is that we are willing to partner with several States in taking matches of the various National Teams round the country.”

Also present during the visit were Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme (Deputy General Secretary), Mr. Bola Oyeyode (Ag. Director, Competitions), Mr. Atabo David (Ag. Director, Finance), Mr. Ademola Olajire (Asst. Director, Communications), Mr. Chris Andekin (Asst. Director, Finance), Mr. Abdulrafiu Yusuf (Asst. Director, Technical), Barr. Okey Obi (Chief Legal Officer) and Dr. Christian Emeruwa (Integrity Officer)

The U. J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar played host to 15 matches of the Super Eagles and the Golden Eaglets between 2012 and 2014 – most of them competitive games. It was venue for all of the Super Eagles’ home matches in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series and the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, as well as the team’s first match in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification series against Congo-Brazzaville.

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