The much-anticipated return of Enyimba International FC to their home ground in Aba may be delayed following the variation on the original contract agreed for the renovation of the stadium.
The People’s Elephants have been playing all their home matches at the U.J.Esuene Stadium in Calabar in the last two seasons and the state government has been making frantic efforts to complete rehabilitation work on the Enyimba Stadium in Aba to bring the team home.
But at a press conference in Umuahia yesterday, the Chief Executive of Monimichelle Sports Facility Construction Limited, Mr. Ebi Egbe, said that Enyimba FC is set to return home to play their matches on the geo-tech pitch which would be installed at the Enyimba Stadium.
He said that everything was ready for the installation of the synthetic pitch once his firm and the state Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu agrees on the contract variation. Though Ebi did not disclose the additional cost following the contract variation THISDAY however learnt that the rehabilitation of the Enyimba Stadium was originally put at over N300 million.
“We must bring Enyimba back home to start their CAF Confederation Cup campaign here,” he said, adding that once the variation is sorted out, the facilities should be ready by second week of February. The People’s Elephants should be ready to return home by then and trample on visiting opponents,” pledged the Monimichelle boss.
Ebi who is a FIFA match agent, stated that Enyimba FC deserves the best facilities given their stature not only as the darling team of Abia, Nigeria but a force to be reckoned with in African club football.
“We must make sure that their stadium meets international standard,” he said.
To this end, the contractor noted that aside from the turf other facilities like the stadium roof, dressing room, electronic score board, among others, would all be upgraded to international standard.
The Monimichelle CEO, whose firm upgraded the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, said that the same geo-tech pitch would be installed at Enyimba Stadium
He explained that the variation was occasioned by the difference in the exchange rates from when the contract was signed and now. “Synthetic grass is very expensive and because of the value of Nigeria’s currency now compared with when we signed the contract, to get the Euro is at additional cost. He noted that it costs as much as over 200 million Euros to grass a standard field.
Ebi insisted that geo-tech pitch, which is the vogue now, was the best for the Enyimba Stadium measuring 110 by 74 metres in dimension.
He confirmed that most top level players avoid playing on the synthetic pitches scattered all over the country in order to avoid unnecessary injuries
“Our pitches have zero undulation,” he boasted of the quality of his products.
He however warned that having been playing on the natural grass of the Calabar stadium, “Enyimba players would need two to three months to get accustomed to the world-class facility being put in place for the team.
Egbe pointed out that the period of adjustment to the new pitch would be eliminated if the People’s Elephants could relocate to the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa that made of the same stuff as the Aba stadium.
Abia State Commissioner for Sports, Dr Martins Okoji, said that the re-grassing of the Enyimba Stadium has been a very serious issue which has been receiving adequate attention from the state government.
“The entire Abia people are worried that Enyimba have been playing their matches ‘away’ in the last two seasons.
“The expectation of Abia people is that Enyimba should no more play their matches outside Aba,” he said, adding that the rebranded Enyimba Stadium would be ready before February 24.