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Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr is delighted after the Nigeria Football Federation confirmed that a friendly match between the Super Eagles and England’s Three Lions will take place at the Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday, 2 June, 2018.
The Nigeria Football Federation announced the friendly in a press release on Wednesday and confirmed that it will serve as the Super Eagles’ final preparatory game for the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, with their first match against Croatia in Kaliningrad coming exactly two weeks after.
NFF 1st Vice President and Chairman of the Federation’s Organizing Committee, Seyi Akinwunmi, told thenff.com on Tuesday: “The match is now confirmed. We had been doing a lot of work in the background, even going back to last year.
“Now, we are happy to say that it is all sealed. Certainly, it is going to be a big match, between two countries of remarkable historical affinity and similarities.
“We have other matches and programmes for the team, and we will soon roll out the entire plan for matches, camping sites and training camps.”
According to the NFF, the idea of a friendly game between England and Nigeria was first mooted in 2015, when NFF President Amaju Pinnick met with then Chairman of The FA Greg Dyke in London. Afterwards, Pinnick and NFF 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko (who is also Chairman of the NFF Marketing, Sponsorship and TV Rights Committee)) met with incumbent Chairman of The FA, Greg Clarke, also in London.
Rohr told thenff.com: “This is good news for myself and the entire team. England is a very strong team presently and I believe they will give us a very good match. We will be able to test our readiness for the World Cup when we meet the Three Lions at Wembley.”
While the Super Eagles play Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in Group D, the Three Lions are up against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G in Russia.
England is one of only eight countries to have won any of the previous 20 editions of the FIFA World Cup finals.
Nigeria and England first clashed at senior level on 16th November 1994, also at the old Wembley Stadium. David Platt’s headed goal towards the end of the first half separated both teams.
Both teams met again at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The encounter at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan on 12th June 2002 ended 0-0, with the Super Eagles being eliminated from the finals at the group stage.
Akinwunmi added: “We decided to be strategic in our choice of opponents for the Super Eagles leading to the World Cup, and in total agreement with the preferences of the Technical Adviser. That is why we opted for England. We played Argentina (in November 2017) without even knowing we were going to be in the same group at the Finals.”
The Super Eagles already have a confirmed date with Poland in Warsaw on 23 March. Other dates are 27 March and 27 May.