‘The problem has nothing to do with the NFF’ – Nigeria blames SAFA for Bafana Bafana’s travel chaos

The West Africans have distanced themselves from the woes South Africa faced in their trip

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has blamed South Africa Football Association (SAFA) for the travel woes experienced by Bafana Bafana on their way to Nigeria. 

South Africa had their journey to Nigeria delayed for numerous hours when their chartered plane took off late on Wednesday, with the squad forced to spend the night in Port Harcourt before proceeding to Uyo, where the match will be staged, on Thursday.

It meant Bafana Bafana arrived way behind schedule and only had Thursday evening to get a feel of the match venue but the NFF says South Africa have no one to blame but themselves.

“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,” NFF boss Emmanuel Ayanbunmi told Nigerian outlet Naija Times.

‘It was less than two hours to landing that they contacted us’

“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.

“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 mobilise people to ensure smooth formalities for them.”

Ayanbunmi said Nigeria did everything within their powers to make the journey smooth for South Africa but could not do much when their plane arrived at night in Port Harcourt and was unable to fly to Uyo.

Mobilised resources for Bafana to spend the night in Port Harcourt

“We had to quickly get in touch with officials of NMS and other agencies in Port Harcourt and mobilise people to ensure smooth formalities for them,” he added. 

“Having completed all immigration formalities, they wanted to take off for Uyo but were informed that the Obong Victor Attah Airport only operates from sunrise to sunset, and so that was not possible.

“The NFF immediately mobilised resources for them to comfortably spend the night in Port Harcourt.”

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos admitted the situation was less than ideal but insisted it will not affect their performance in the 2026 World Cup qualifier against the Super Eagles. 

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Joel Oliver

Joel Oliver is a seasoned multimedia sports journalist with a rich background in covering diverse football stories and events in South Africa and beyond.

His extensive coverage spans subjects touching on the PSL, with a focus on the Big Three (Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs & Mamelodi Sundowns), Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana.