Nigeria’s friendly with Burkina Faso on Monday in London has been called off after several Burkina Faso players failed to gain visas to enter the UK.
According to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) “seven players in the Burkinabe contingent failed to secure entry visas into the United Kingdom”.
The match was scheduled as part of Nigeria’s build-up for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa in June and the World Cup qualifier against Cameroon later in the year.
“The match in question is called off due to no fault of either the organisers or the Nigeria Football Federation. We will announce further plans for the Super Eagles’ preparation for these two important qualifying campaigns in due course,” top NFF official Chris Green said.
The Super Eagles drew 1-1 with Senegal on Thursday night after Kelechi Iheanacho’s late penalty cancelled out Moussa Sow’s opening goal at the Hive, home of English fourth tier side Barnet.
The NFF say they are “extremely disappointed” the match on Monday has been called off but insist that the “objectives of satisfying the technical team’s desire of squaring up against tough, physical African opposition and fostering team bonding and organisation were achieved”.
“There is no British Embassy in Ouagadougou, and officials of the Federation Burkinabe de Football had been shuttling between Accra and Ouagadougou for visa processing,” the NFF explained in a statement.
“FBF (Burkina Faso Football Federation) sources said the Embassy in Accra told them last week to proceed to Morocco (where The Stallions played the Atlas Lions on Friday) and that the visas would be issued there.
“However, the applications were still pending at the British Embassy in Morocco as at close of work on Friday, the last working day before match day in London.
“The Burkinabe Football Federation – on Friday 24 March 2017 by 7pm UK time – telephoned the match organisers [Eurodata] to say some of their players and officials were unable to secure entry visas into the United Kingdom and therefore would not be able to honour the match.”
Three-time African champions Nigeria have failed to qualify for the last two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations.
But under new manager Gernot Rohr, who took charge in August, the Super Eagles got off to a flying start in their 2018 World Cup qualifiers, recording a 2-1 win in Zambia and a 3-1 victory at home against Algeria.
Nigeria’s six points, coupled with some surprising results in the other games, leaves them with an early four-point lead in their 2018 World Cup qualifying group ahead of Cameroon and Zambia.
Burkina Faso finished third at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and lost 2-0 to Morocco in Friday’s friendly.