Ten months after Dangote Group of Companies handed over the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja to the Federal Government, the rehabilitated football pitch of the stadium is back to its old deplorable state.
The PUNCH reported that the bumpy pitch didn’t allow for free flow of the ball when the Super Eagles beat Sierra Leone 2-1 in an AFCON qualifier on Thursday, while the grass in some parts was gone.
The stadium renovation was made possible courtesy of the Federal Government’s Adopt-A-Pitch initiative aimed at private sector collaboration to uplift sports facilities in the country.
Prior to Dangote’s intervention, the stadium had deteriorated from a monument of national pride to a site of national embarrassment, with the pitch in bad state.
The renovation was carried out by local contractors, Aron Nigeria, who reportedly made use of pure dynasty pas palum — the latest grass technology in the world, which will also be used for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, as well as latest digital technology for the scoreboards.
The rehabilitation of the stadium, which was bankrolled by business mogul, Aliko Dangote, reportedly cost $1m.
The revamped pitch was completed with nursery beds, two digital scoreboards, 24 sprinklers and a two-year maintenance plan, as part of the contract reached with Dangote Industries under the Public-Private Partnership initiative of the sports ministry.
This renovation captivated the Special Adviser to the President on Sports and former Super Eagles captain, Daniel Amokachi, who took to Twitter to troll Ghana ahead of their 2022 World Cup playoff against Nigeria in March.
Back then, Ghana’s preparations for the first leg game was hit by confusion following uncertainty over which stadium would host the first leg between both countries.
Amokachi, used the opportunity to troll Ghana for their poor preparations prior to the game.
“We are at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium,” Amokachi said in a video he shared on Twitter on March 19.
“We are ready. Look at how beautiful the pitch is, look at how beautiful the stadium is. We are ready but some people are still looking for a venue. Some people are under confusion, you know who I’m talking about.”
However, three months after, the same stadium, which has hosted three international games since then, is in bad shape again.
During the Eagles versus Leone Stars clash, the ball bounced awkwardly each time players from both teams tried to keep control of it.
It also affected play as both teams struggled to string passes together, before resulting to long balls as parts of the pitch had been ploughed.
The poor state of the pitch was also allegedly responsible for the injuries William Troost-Ekong and Ola Aina sustained during the game.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, former Eagles goalkeeper, Dosu Joseph, expressed shock at the state of the pitch months after it was renovated.
“The pitch was not pleasant for play but kudos to the players who gave their best to ensure that the Eagles won after the early setback. It is hard to believe that the pitch is back to its old state again.”
Some fans took to Twitter to express their displeasure over the poor condition of the pitch after the game.
@SegunMossy stated, “Abuja stadium that look so fine and beautiful like Premier League stadium three months ago, now look like a SAND SIRO stadium. The grasses are brown and dark at some point. Lack of maintenance will kill Nigeria.”
Journalist Osasu Obayiuwana wrote, “The @NGSuperEagles 2-1 #AFCON2023Q victory over #TeamSierraLeone, on that decrepit potato farm pitch in Abuja, came at the cost of injuries to Victor Osimhen and Troost-Ekong, who were casualties of that miserable pitch. We can’t get the simplest of things right.”
“To build or renovate hasn’t been the problem but maintenance. Few months after renovation see how the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja looks now,” @bigslim added.
@BlaiseChimezie tweeted, “Sir please Abuja Stadium pitch is in a very disastrous state. Please the Super Eagles can’t play there again like that … please get it fixed.
“Who is going to repair that Abuja stadium? That stadium can’t remain like that for the next home game. It was very bad but congratulations to the team on the win… it was much deserved. Super Eagles.”
Ozurumba Anthony tweeted, “The pitch was shit, it made playing football very awful for the players on the pitch. Unilag’s pitch for NUGA was way better than that apology of a pitch.”
Another Twitter user @arewawizard added, “I thought Dangote renovated this Abuja stadium with a substantial sum of money. Why is it still in such poor condition? What exactly is wrong with us in this country?
@iamsamflex also tweeted, “Can’t believe it’s same Abuja stadium they repaired less than a year we played on today, terrible pitch for football.”
“We keep making ourselves a laughing stock amongst Nations! At times like this, you feel ashamed to be identified as Nigerian. What was that thing the Super Eagles played on? Please the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo should be used for our subsequent games please,” @kenokeyatuegwu wrote.