Lagos National Stadium wears new look

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The National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos is wearing a new look after the football pitch was renovated for the first time in a decade, Saturday PUNCH reports.

Built in 1972 under the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, the sports arena hosted the 1973 African Games, as Nigeria emerged champions for the first time, before it hosted the 1980 AFCON, with the men’s football national team, then known as the Green Eagles, ruling Africa for the first time ever as well.

It was also one of the venues of the 1999 U-20 World Cup and then the 2000 AFCON co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria.

However, both major events were the last that held there before the stadium became completely abandoned.

Afterwards, it became a venue for religious and social gatherings and was taken over by hoodlums popularly known as Area Boys, squatters, hawkers, prostitutes and bar operators.

But on Thursday, the National Stadium, Lagos pitch underwent rehabilitation with re-grassing of the main pitch, replacement of the scoreboard and vandalised cables restored, which ensures the facility is well lighted at night to enhance security.

In a statement by the ministry and made available to Saturday PUNCH, the minister assured that the work was almost at the completion stage.

“One of Nigeria’s iconic stadiums, National Stadium, Surulere is on the verge of a complete turnaround after works started on the ground courtesy of Sunday Dare’s Adopt-a-Pitch initiative.

“After preliminary inspections and several weeks of work, rollers have now been deployed to the turf, as work enters a new phase.

“Nigeria won its first AFCON trophy in 1980 at this stadium and it remains a historic place in the history of Nigerian football.”

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Former Super Eagles stars, however, commended the minister for bringing the Lagos National stadium back to life after it had been abandoned for a long time.

Former captain of the Eagles Sunday Oliseh said, “A fantastic sports edifice in my motherland which I’m proud to have played there. I have bitter-sweet memories of the stadium so this piece of news is good to me.

“Kudos to everyone involved in bringing back that place to life. I hope to see the Eagles play there someday.”

Mutiu Adepoju added, “It is a good thing that our stadiums are gradually getting into good shape, especially the national stadium in Lagos.

“It is great news and one must be happy about it and such developments are what we are looking for because this is what is good for our sports.

“Kudos should go to the minister for a good job.”

The statement also revealed that there are plans to rehabilitate the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna while the Infrastructure in Ife have also being marked down for upgrading, as the adopt-a-Pitch initiatives continue to thrive.

In February, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, assured that the renovation work on the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos will soon be completed.

According to him, “This facility was abandoned for many years. The stadium, unlike the Abuja Stadium, had a zero maintenance fund for almost 17 years, but we got Chief Adebutu Kesington to get it back to life.

“It took me a while to come here, but my coming is a validation of the fact that I’m impressed with the level of work that has been done. I hope we can host events here very soon once we get the place functional. We are going to clear the debris. The grass is being properly maintained and the tracks will soon be laid and we are good to go.”

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