Nigeria’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying build-up starts with a friendly away to Ukraine in September, according to the country’s football federation (NFF).
The Super Eagles have risen 12 places to 33rd in the Fifa world rankings, following a third place finish at last month’s continental event in Egypt.
The NFF has quickly secured a 10 September date against the Eastern Europeans as Nigeria prepare to open their Cameroon 2021 campaign against Benin in November’s Group L fixture.
“We have secured a Grade A international friendly match for the Super Eagles against the Ukraine in Kiev, on the 10th of September,” Amaju Pinnick, the NFF president confirmed.
“It is part of our on-going drive to expose as many players as we can to global football, so this should be another springboard for our young stars.”
The two countries have never met at senior international level.
Despite having a year left on his contract, coach Gernot Rohr, who has been linked with a move away from Nigeria, is set for showdown talks with his employers in couple of weeks.
His managerial style and tactical decisions came under intense criticism at the last two tournaments in Russia and Egypt, but the NFF has publicly backed him to continue in his role.
However, Rohr told a local newspaper (The Punch) last week that both the country’s sports ministry and football authority must work together to ensure success for the three-time African champions.
“For the future, if it’s with me or without me, they should both find a way together to work in the same direction – the sports ministry politics and the officials of NFF,” he said.
“You cannot improve Nigerian football if you don’t have a good relationship. The infrastructures, the pitches and togetherness, we need them.”
By: Oluwashina Okeleji
Football Writer, Nigeria/BBC
Photo Credit: BBC