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Anxiety grips NFF over riots in Benghazi

FOLLOWING the reported civilian unrest in the Libyan city of Benghazi, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has alerted the Nigerian embassy in the North African country to help it monitor the situation and also look out for the national Under-20 team, the Flying Eagles.
The Flying Eagles are currently on a two-match playing tour of Libya, which will host the 2011 African Youth Championship (AYC) next month with Nigeria as one of the participants.
A local website reported that the Nigerian embassy yesterday warned the Flying Eagles to restrict their movements in Benghazi following a protest in the North African nation’s second biggest city.  
Following that report, an NFF official, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that the federation has contacted the Foreign Ministry, which in turn is working with the embassy to ensure that the team is safe.
Media reports yesterday said that the civil uprising sweeping across the Arab world has found its way to Benghazi, where the Flying Eagles are due to play a second warm-up match against their Libyan counterparts.
The reports also reveal that hundreds of people fought with police overnight in protest over the arrest of a civil rights campaigner and demanded his release.
The official revealed that the Nigerian embassy has reached an understanding with Libyan security forces on the safety of the Flying Eagles, adding, however, that the Nigerian team would leave the country today for Turkey in continuation of its preparation for the AYC.
Confirming the situation in Libya, NFF’s Acting General Secretary, Musa Amadu, through a release by the federation’s Media Officer, Ademola Olajire, said: “We are keeping close watch on our team, and we are also talking regularly with the Nigerian Embassy in Libya. The Ambassador and Mission staff have been wonderful. They are closely monitoring our players and officials and have been advising them on where to go and where not to go.
“Although the current trouble spot is said to be somewhat far away from our team’s Al-Wahat Tourist Hotel base, it is still necessary to be in touch with them and monitor very closely what is happening there.
“Officials of the Libyan Football Association have also been up-and-doing. They have advised our players and officials to stay indoors except when they are going for their second friendly match”, said Amadu.
On Monday, the Flying Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw by their Libyan counterparts at the Hugo Chavez Stadium in the first of two friendly matches put together by the Nigeria Football Federation and the Libyan federation.  Chidi Osichukwu scored for Nigeria before the Libyans equalised late in the first half via a penalty kick taken three times.
The Nigeria contingent will fly out today to Istanbul from Benghazi aboard a Turkish Airlines flight at 4.20pm (3.20pm Nigeria time), for their 25-day training camp in Antalya.
-Guardian

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Posted by on Feb 16 2011. Filed under Headlines, Soccer, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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