Insecurity: C’River rubbishes Malawi’s protest
•They are ignorant and scared, says Ugbe
Sports authorities in Cross River State have reacted to the protest lodged by the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to FIFA demanding that the venue for the 2014 World Cup qualifying match with the Super Eagles billed for September 7 be moved from Calabar to another venue for security reasons.
FAM, in a statement signed by FAM CEO, Sugzo Nyirenda protested that Calabar is a security risk and that Malawi wants to avoid playing the match in Calabar. They would prefer Abuja or Lagos, he said.
But in a swift reaction, Cross River State Commissioner for Sports, Patrick Ugbe has dismissed FAM’s claims, saying the protest only exposed Malawi’s ignorance about Nigeria.
Ugbe, who spoke to journalists in Calabar on Tuesday on the protest said: ”We have a track record of hosting the national team matches and we have been doing that since last year.
“And we are ready again to do it even though we understand that Malawi protested to FIFA that they don’t want to come to Calabar. This is the final match of the group qualifiers.
“I personally believe that it is because they know that the Eagles has never lost a match in Calabar. It has won all its matches in Calabar and the Malawians know that it will be a tough match for them.
“They need an outright victory while Nigeria needs at least a draw in that match for us to proceed to the next stage. So, I guess it is fear that made them to protest to FIFA having followed the Eagles’ matches and knowing that they have done so well in Calabar.
“They are citing security reasons and it shows that they have a poor knowledge of Nigeria because if they had a good knowledge of Nigeria, they would have been asking FIFA to bring the match to Calabar because this is where they will be safest in the country.”
Ugbe blamed incidences such as FAM’s protest for the continent’s poor development of the round leather game.
“They are playing mind games with the national team. This is why African football has refused to grow beyond where it is at the moment. You cannot find European countries protesting about where they are going to play a match.
“They rather prepare, play the match and win or loss, whatever is the verdict of the game. It is just mind game as I see it,” Ugbe concluded.