Abuja Stadium pitch; Keshi puts his foot in it

abuja stadiumBy Mark Baber
October 10 - Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi has become embroiled in a new row as he criticised the pitch at the refurbished National Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria, as bad for football, before rowing back on his comments yesterday.

Keshi 'clarified' his earlier comments on the pitch of the National Stadium, saying the pitch was "not bad" - but a lot needed to be done to improve its standard.

The Wednesday statement follows an earlier one on Tuesday when it was widely reported he told reporters the pitch was dangerous and: "From what I saw, it is a sandy pitch and it is hard; it will be very difficult for the players to play on it, especially the goalkeepers because it is sharp sand. If it rains, I think, the pitch will be water-logged.''

Keshi explained his earlier comments saying, "I was responding to a question by a reporter and what I said was that the Stadium is not bad but we still have some work to do. I am surprised that it has become Keshi condemning the entire process of stadium repairs."

Keshi's remarks have stirred up renewed controversy over the renovation of the pitch, as last month the House of Representatives Committee on Sports chairman, Godfrey Gaiya, slammed the National Sports Commission for spending N96.6 million ($700,000) on the project, describing the spending as 'doubtful' considering the poor state of the pitch after rainfall.

Gaiya told reporters he was disappointed with the level of work carried out by Julius Berger PLC and he was not "comfortable with the level of water logged on the pitch."

Keshi is no stranger to controversy and received a reprimand from FIFA recently after he described coach Tom Saintfiet as "a white dude who should go back to Belgium."

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