Nigeria’s players, coaches and officials in the Super Eagles, as well as their fans and journalists will be enchanted to find out that the venue of their first three matches at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, Alexandria in Egypt, is ready and waiting for them to land.
The Eagles are billed to fly into Alexandria from another Egyptian city, Ismalia on June 17, ahead of their first match against Burundi on the 22nd, before all of which authorities are promising them best of thrills, but is the venue of their matches that is drawing the best attraction.
The stadium where Nigeria will play all their group matches is a 20,000-sitter edifice called ‘The Home of Football,’ and is located in the city on the sidelines of the Mediterranean Sea.
Alexandria Stadium is regarded as the oldest football arena in Egypt and one of the earliest across Africa, having been built in 1929; yet it is now billed to host five group stage matches of AFCON 2019 and one Round of 16 fixture, aside three for Nigeria’s Eagles.
The three-time African champions will open camp in Asaba, Delta State on 2nd June, then play The Warriors of Zimbabwe in a friendly match at Stephen Keshi Stadium on Saturday, 8th June.
A day after that game, the Eagles will depart Asaba aboard a chartered flight for Ismailia, Egypt where they will set up a final training camp.
On Sunday, 16th June, the Eagles will face Senegal at Ismailia Stadium in their final tune-up game.
The following day, June 17th, the Eagles Eagles’ delegation will move to Alexandria, venue of all three of their first round games at AFCON 2019.
Nigeria’s Group B schedule at Alexandria Stadium, which also hosts the home matches of Egyptian Premier League sides Al Ittihad, Smouha and Olympic Club, are June 22 versus Burundi at 17:00, June 26 with Guinea at 14:30, and June 30 against Madagascar at 16:00.
A profile for Alexandria Stadium read in part: “Designed by Russian architect Vladimir Nicohosov, it is adorned with Olympic-style carvings and was built to host the Olympic Games should Egypt bid for hosting it.
“The country never did but the stadium still hosted the inaugural Mediterranean Games in 1951 as well as several rugby tournaments in 1941 and 1942 during the World War Two.
“It later became the home of several Alexandria-based clubs, the most of which are Ittihad and Olympic.
“It was also one of the stadiums which hosted the U-17 and U-20 World Cups in 1997 and 2009 respectively.
“(It) was renovated ahead of the 2006 African Nations Cup on home soil, with its capacity increased from 15,000 to 20,000 seats.”