The Nigeria Football Federation has stated that a regular flight, instead of a charter arrangement, will be used to convey the Super Eagles to Alexandria, Egypt for the return leg of the Africa Nations Cup qualifier. The NFF boss Amaju Pinnick who spoke to reporters in Abuja on Thursday said the decision to adjust the flight plan “arose out of economic of scales.”
The match will hold on March 29.
Nigeria will meet its old adversaries, Egypt, in Alexandria four days after the first Group G tie in Kaduna on March 25. Pinnick, who said that the federation could revert to the charter plan if the need arose, said the Eagles might fly to Cairo aboard a regular Egypt Air that departs from Abuja, Lagos or Kano, before connecting Alexandria via a domestic flight or by road.
The calculation is that the regular flight plan will save NFF about N35m. The quoted figure for a charter flight to Egypt submitted by a Nigerian airline in negotiation with the FA is $250,000. Though the final decision has not been taken, Pinnick reasoned that the NFF, which is groaning under the effect of scarcity of foreign currency, can use the saved money in paying the bonuses of the players.
He said, “It is not about ego; we can fly a regular flight, save a minimum of N35m which will be okay with the government. We have an option to fly with Egypt Air which operates three flights out of Nigeria from Kano, Abuja and Lagos on a daily basis and arrive in Cairo on Saturday, March 26. We can travel to Alexandria by domestic flight or by road and arrive in time before the match that holds on Tuesday March 29. Our players have enough days to prepare.”
Pinnick, who said the players were highly motivated to confront the Egyptians, revealed that Portland Timbers of USA, who Fanendo Adi plays for, have offered to split with Nigeria the flight cost of the player for the matches.
The yet to be capped Adi is one the 21 overseas-based players invited by coach Samson Siasia.
According to Pinnick, the 25-year-old striker approached his club president after he (Pinnick) informed him of the challenges before NFF to buy his return tickets.
He said, “After Adi talked to his club president about our challenges, Portland Timbers, resolved to cover half of the responsibility that the country would bear. The benefit is that the club will be mentioned whenever he represents Nigeria and is a great honour for him to play for his country.”