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Nigeria’s loss is unlikely to be the UAE’s gain,
Posted by: administrator (Jan-29-2009)
Nigeria’s loss is unlikely to be the UAE’s gain, says Abdullah

Ahmed Rizvi

* Last Updated: January 28. 2009 8:48PM UAE / January 28. 2009 4:48PM GMT

The UAE is unlikely to be considered as an alternative venue for the Under 17 World Cup should Fifa decide to take the tournament away from Nigeria.

Fifa have expressed doubts about Nigeria’s ability to host the 20-day tournament, scheduled to start on Oct 24, due to a serious lack of preparation.

But Yousuf Abdullah, the secretary of the UAE Football Association, said: “We are already hosting two Fifa events this year so I doubt if they will be interested in giving us a third. We have heard about Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Argentina and other countries being interested in hosting the event if Nigeria fails to meet the standards. But we don’t have any definite information.”

The UAE, which is staging the Fifa-sanctioned Club World Cup and the Beach Soccer World Cup, have qualified for the U17 World Cup, and Abdullah hopes Nigeria will rise to the challenge – but he would support a move if the venue is not ready.

“Obviously we would like to see Nigeria host the tournament,” he said. “It is a prestigious event and a source of pride for the host.

“But all the participating countries would like to play in a country where you have a comfortable stay, have good training facilities and stadiums. If Nigeria is not ready then Fifa will have no choice but to move to another location.”

If Fifa start looking for alternate venues, Abdullah doubts the UAE would be considered, but he hopes it could be staged somewhere close. “It would be better for us if it is held in a nearby country, but we will play wherever Fifa decides to host the event,” he said.

Fifa was hoping to stage three of their major tournaments for 2009 in Africa, as part of the build-up to next year’s World Cup in South Africa. The Confederations Cup, scheduled for June in South Africa, will kick off what Fifa describes as an “exciting” year for African football. Egypt is scheduled to host the U20 World Cup from Sept 25 to Oct 16 with Nigeria expected to take up the baton a few days later.

arizvi@thenational.ae
 
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