The Samuel Ogbemudia stadium will host Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone on Friday and from all indication this “world class” arena will leave all who set eyes on it stunned, as it hosts its first major international game since 2011.
Also known as the Ogbe Stadium, it was renovated gulping several hundred millions over the years but the investment according observers is worth every penny.
The arena among other things features the only VAR system in the country but the snag about the pomp and magnificence of the SOS is the grass.
Across the country where natural grass is laid as the playing surface, there seem to be a major shortcoming in the quality and management of the surfaces.
In this instance, the SOS is no different and for all the adulation the facilities at the arena gets, the playing surface comes close to appalling.
When the Nigeria Football Federation inspection team visited the grounds early November, FA President Amaju Pinnick described it as “brilliant” and “world class”.
Maybe it was 11 days before, but on the eve of the game against the Leone Stars, pictures of the pitch shows those colorful praise might have come too soon, outlandish and perhaps exaggerated.
In a tweet of the team’s final practice session before game day, CB Leon Balogun couldn’t help but laugh at an observation of how weedy the turf appeared.
That way ↩️⤴️↪️ pic.twitter.com/GKPVkv5FGo
— Leon Balogun (@LeonBalogun) November 12, 2020
His former Wigan teammate, Gary Roberts’ reply to the initial tweet drew attention to one issue that has evaded most conversations in the build up to the game.
Roberts complained about the length of the grass and it was spot on.
“Could do with a lawn mower on the grass there lad,” the Liverpudlian tweeted in response to the post that shows Balogun’s boots buried deep in the grass.
Could do with a lawn mower on the grass there lad
— Gary Roberts (@11_robbo) November 12, 2020
There were several comments about the grass from other people as well.
The grasses are almost covering their boots. Poor pitch
— F Israel (@FIsrael6) November 13, 2020
They might have cut the grass
— Dado (@mendrinkmilk) November 12, 2020
When was the last time that pitch was trimmed?
— tHeRe_can_B_OnLy1 (@ikethe1) November 13, 2020
Grass is longer than my garden
— CMcA (@CMcA86) November 12, 2020