Nigeria vs South Africa: NFF reject responsibility for Bafana travel woes

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have denied being responsible for South Africa’s delayed arrival in Uyo for their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Super Eagles.

The players and staff of Bafana Bafana arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday via a chartered flight but were forced to spend the night in Port Harcourt after a labour strike had earlier stalled domestic flights.

A statement on Bafana Bafana’s page on X later lamented the team’s travel complications, saying they were unable to leave the Port Harcourt Airport because the “Uyo Airport had closed by the time the team was scheduled to take off.”

South Africa, however, finally arrived in Uyo on Thursday afternoon ahead of their crucial game against Nigeria at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Friday.

NFF blames South Africa for their travel complications

The NFF, though, have rejected responsibility for Bafana Bafana’s delayed arrival, blaming the South African delegation for landing in Nigeria five hours later than pre-agreed and not informing the hosts of their change of plans.

The Protocol chief of the NFF, Emmanuel Ayanbunmi, said the Federation “immediately mobilized resources for them to comfortably spend the night in Port Harcourt” after it became apparent that they couldn’t leave for Uyo.

“The problem has nothing to do with the NFF. As at the time they said they were taking off, it took them a further five hours to actually depart from South Africa. We were not informed. We had informed officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service and other relevant agencies in Lagos to expedite action on the formalities for them,” Ayanbunmisaid, as quoted by the NFF’s official website.

“It was less than two hours to landing that they contacted us to say that the landing right they got was for Port Harcourt International Airport and not the MMA in Lagos. We had to quickly get in touch with officials of NMS and other agencies in Port Harcourt and mobilize people to ensure smooth formalities for them.”

Nigeria and South Africa will meet for the second time in four months, having met in the semi-final of the 2023 AFCON, where the Super Eagles triumphed on penalties.

Nigeria vs South Africa: NFF reject responsibility for Bafana travel woes
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an Asante Kotoko fan and a passionate sports journalist with a little over five years of experience writing about African football.

His articles and features have been published in renowned news media like The Guardian, DW, Al Jazeera and Sportskeeda. His bylines can also be found in the UK journals World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.