Alhaji Idris Abdullahi Musa , aka Thuraya, Chairman, Kwara State Football Association, FA, has revealed that a strong lobby has since been underway to have Kwara State Stadium, Ilorin, slated as one of the stadias to host the 2025 edition of the African Cup of Nations, AFCON.
Thuraya made this disclosure as part of a regular media update on football affairs on the activities of the FA in relation to soccer administration in Kwara State.
According to him, a strong representation has been made to the state government through the Kwara Sports Commission, KSC, for logistical assistance when NFF committee charged with identifying suitable stadia for the biennial soccer fiesta comes into town.
Nigeria and Benin Republic are jointly bidding to host the AFCON in 2025 following Guinea’s withdrawal from hosting the event due to cash related issues.
The West African counties bid’s main rival is Morocco, which has in recent years, gained CAF’s confidence with its state of the art facilities and sports development plan.
But Thuraya is optimistic that Nigeria may win the bid given Nigeria’s strategic importance in the continent.
“Moreover, FIFA and CAF have always been about football development and I am sure that if Kwara is put into consideration what with our bubbling footballl culture, clean hospitality and serenity, Nigeria stands a big chance,” the FA boss said.
The FA chairman also reiterated that Kwara holds a pride of place in soccer history in Africa. Former CAF African footballer of the year, Rashidi Yekini, hails from the state; Super Eagles and Nottingham Forest striking ace, Taiwo Awoniyi is also from the state.
Even more, former Eagles players who have graced the Continental soccer tourney like Seyi Olofinjana, Obinna Nsofor and many others cut their professional soccer teeth in Kwara, specifically on the stadium’s turf.
Further explaining on pluses that could win the state the previledge of hosting AFCON matches, Thuraya stated that Kwara, of recent, under Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazak, has demonstrated how easily Public Private Partnership, PPP, can work in managing sports facility in the state.
Kwara Stadium recently underwent transformation especially in the pitch department after AU Mustapha, SAN, former CAF Appeals Committee boss, led a consortium including the state FA to under take pitch refurbisment, making the stadium currently one of the best in the area of grass football pitches in the country.
The state government complemented the work by fixing the stadium utilities like dressing room, media studios, toilets and bathrooms.
Towards assisting the state government in the bid to have Kwara host AFCON matches and in general soccer administration, the FA chairman explained that it has since created a Special Organising Committee, SOC.
“This committee will be given a lot of assignment to do. I was supposed to be in Abuja yesterday, but I will be going on Saturday. So instead of there to be a vacuum in leadership we have constituted a SOC.
“They are to see to the smooth running of various committees. As you know, this is the FA and our businesses are conducted at committees and subcommittee levels. I told them that I dont want a bogus committee; I also told them that we want a lean, functional committee, not the one peopled with just anybody.
“We have also written to the state government to help us in assisting the committee put together by NFF to check stadia in Nigeria’s ongoing bid to win the hosting right for AFCON.
“If CAF gives Nigerians the hosting right, we believe that Kwara, Ilorin Stadium particularly can be one of the match venues for AFCON. We have written to government to assist the NFF committee especially in the areas of logistics so that they can come and see our stadium and give us recommendation on which areas to still work on.
“So this SOC is put in place to ensure continuity so that the matter will not be dead if call of duty takes me outside the state. This committee has as part of its function the power to meet with Kwara State Commission through whom we reaching out to the state governor,” Thuraya said.
The SOC has at its head, Bashorun Bankole Kayode , Alh Bolaji Umar, Alh Sulaiman Fowomola, Engnr. Idris Jibril Etsu, Mall. Ademola Kiyesola, Chief Alloy Chukwuemeka , Mall. Tunde Kazeem, Prince Oladimeji Ladi- Prince Oladimeji Ladi Thompson and Alh. Ahmed Abdullah