The Super Eagles’ international friendly against Ukraine has been moved from it original venue in Kiev to another location in the East European country, as the hosts prefer to stage the game in Dnipro, to make up for a recent setback in the ancient city.
This much was disclosed by Ukrainian Association of Football (UAF), as the governing body confirmed that their national team will face the Eagles on September 10 at Dnipro-Arena.
This comes after the UAF Executive Committee approved the Dnipro-Arena as the new venue, to make up for having missed out on staging a recent friendly against Turkey, and last hosted a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Ukraine and England.
Dnipro-Arena staged the match between Ukraine and England as the country’s normal home venue, Olimpiysky National Sports Complex in Kiev was being rebuilt ready for UEFA Euro 2012.
Ukraine, who are ranked 25th in the world and have a long history of Nigerian players in their top clubs, have never played against the Eagles, such that it will be a first of its kind game for both countries during the first window for international matches in the 2019/2020 season.
It will be a rehash of their recent encounters at senior female level and at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, while also providing a major talking point in Eastern Europe, as the game will hold three days after the hosts face Lithuania in one of the qualifiers for the European Championship.
NFF president, Melvin Amaju Pinnick disclosed that the match is part of the country’s soccer governing body’s vision to further expose the array of young players in the Eagles to high standards that will help them do better in future.
He added that the game will also accord the Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr another opportunity to try new players ahead of the start of qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations a month after.
Rohr’s team, who climbed to 33rd place in July’s FIFA monthly ranking, after finishing third at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, up 12 spots from 45th position in June, will begin their quest to qualify for AFCON 2021 against Benin Republic on November 11.
The new venue for Ukraine versus Nigeria game, which has a capacity of 31,003 people. is an arena that regularly hosts the homes matches of FC Dnipro, haviong replaced their old Soviet Metalurh Stadium that had been in existence since 1940.
Before now, the Dnipro-Arena was chosen as a possible venue for Euro 2012, but was dropped from the list in May 2009, though the capacity had to fell short of the minimum 33,000 seats required by UEFA.
Dnipro-Arena then hosted the 2009 Ukrainian Cup final, in which Vorskla Poltava beat Shakhtar Donetsk 1–0 and, since the beginning of conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Dnipro have played their Euro matches at Olympiskiy NSC Stadium in Kyiv at the behest of UEFA.
The Nigerian team, though, need not worry about politic strife affecting them on September 10, as the authorities in Ukraine says there has been comparatively less conflict in Dnipro than other areas.
UAF president, Andrey Pavelko said: ”Considering the postponement of the friendly match with the Turks, which was supposed to take place in Dnipro in November last year, such a decision is absolutely logical and fair.
“This match will be the best gift to Dnipro, the main outpost of Ukraine in the east, and the first national team match in the city in the last 10 years.”