By Olanrewaju Akojede
The National Chairperson, Nigeria Eagles Supporters Club, Bunmi Ogunfunwa, on Saturday said that the Super Eagles were missing the supporters club at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt due to visa hitch.
Ogunfuwa made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on the sidelines of the Olympic Day celebration held at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
NAN reports that the Super Eagles are already playing at the AFCON 2019 in Egypt and have qualified for the round of 16 after winning their first two games against Burundi and Guinea.
Ogunfuwa said that many of the supporters club members were still left stranded in Nigeria due to the delay in the issuance of visa to those qualified to cheer the team at the tournament.
“We didn’t expect this to happen to us, if we knew, we would have applied about two to three months earlier before the competition.
“The criteria for applying for visa for members going to Egypt by CAF is the match ticket and the Supporters Clubs’ Identity card, but we did not get our tickets until the competition came very close.
“CAF should have come out with a process that is more flexible and devoid of this complexity because I think our Identity Cards should have sufficed for our attendance at the competition.
“This was the criteria used during the last World Cup in Russia, though the competition was just for a month, we were granted six months visa to go in and out of Russia,’’ she said.
Ogunfuwa said that the visa regime had affected cheering the national team in Egypt, adding that they lacked adequate support during the previous games.
“This visa delay has not helped us as supporters club as well as the national team, they must have missed us because our presence was not felt inside the stadium.
“If we are in the stadium, who knows maybe the Super Eagles would have done better in their previous games. Right now, we don’t have enough of our members in Egypt.
“What we did in interim was one of our members who mobilised some Nigerians in Egypt to cheer the team when they are playing because we want them to go beyond the quarter-finals.
“We sincerely hope that the Egyptian Embassy will grant visa to our members on time so as to give support to our team,’’ she said.
Ogunfuwa also added that the supporters club was in the support of the Rafiu Ladipo and Samuel Ikpea-led Nigeria Football Supporters Club.