The first leg of the third round playoffs between Ghana and Nigeria for a spot at the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar has officially been moved to a new venue.
Both teams were drawn to face each other in the third round qualifying playoffs for a spot at the 23rd edition of the global showpiece. The first leg was scheduled to take place on 25 March in Accra, Ghana at the Cape Coast stadium while the second leg was to take place on 29 March in Abuja, Nigeria at the Moshood Abiola Stadium.
Following the 65th Independence Day parade of Ghana held at the Cape Coast Stadium on 6 March, the stadium was declared unfit to host the all-important fixture.
Repair works have since started on the stadium but the Ghana FA applied to FIFA through CAF to grant them permission to use another venue as the timeline for the repairs of the stadium were not going to be met by the time the match was to take place.
After an inspection by CAF and FIFA, the Baba Yara stadium in Kumasi, Ghana has been approved for use for the first leg of the all-important fixture between the two West African giants.
Ghanaian journalist Saddick Adams tweeted about the news. His tweet reads:
“JUST IN: Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi to host Ghana v Nigeria #WCQ2022. I’m told FIFA has already booked hotels in Kumasi for its match assessors and monitors in Kumasi.”
The tweet from Saddick Adams is the only information there is to go by, however, as moves to confirm the authenticity of the information have been unsuccessful.
Fitness concerns for Eguavoen ahead of Ghana clash
Super Eagles striker, Sadiq Umar, is a new fitness concern for interim manager Augustine Eguavoen as reports from Spain claim that the 25-year old-did not train fully with his club in their last session.
The UD Almeria striker has been in great form this season for the club, netting 15 times and assisting nine others as the Rojiblancos charge towards a Segunda Division title and promotion to LaLiga for the next season.
His importance to the club is such that the club struggled when he was away for four weeks with Nigeria at the African Cup of Nations in January held in Cameroon.
Now that he is back, he has helped stabilise the club and has even risen to become the eighth all-time leading goal scorer in only two seasons at the club.
Now, Almeria-based newspaper Diario de Almeria, has reported that the Nigeria international did not participate in full training with his teammates on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The newspaper also reported that he was at their training session on Tuesday and spoke with the manager briefly before leaving to treat an undisclosed ailment.
Almeria have tried to play down Umar's fitness issue, stating that he carried out individual workouts as his teammates prepared ahead of Monday's clash against CD Tenerife.
Almeria are also currently in touch with the Nigeria Football Federation to delay the striker's arrival until after their crucial match against Tenerife.
While we wait for more information on Umar's fitness, Eguavoen and the other Super Eagles handlers will be wary that it doesn't turn out to be a case similar to that of Odion Ighalo from the African Cup of Nations.
Kenneth Omeruo is also out injured and has not featured in the last four league matches for CD Leganes. William Troost-Ekong and Oghenekaro Etebo are back in full training with Watford but are also lacking match fitness which will be important for international duty.
This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago