The golden age of Nigerian football is here. Nigerian footballers such as Victor Moses, John Obi Mikel and Ogenyi Onazi are setting alight European leagues. Meanwhile, there is ever growing interest in the Nigerian Premier League. No wonder then that Nigerian football fans are dreaming of the day when Nigeria hosts its first World Cup Finals. In this piece we look at the top football stadiums which could be used if this dream of a Nigerian World Cup ever comes to fruition.
Opened in 2000 to host the All Africa Games, the Abuja National Stadium (pictured above) is the modern, all singing, all dancing home of the mighty Super Eagles. Outside the football stadium, the dome can be seen clearly across the Abuja skyline. The stadium hosts a presidential suite for whenever President Buhari fancies watching a game. The capacity is 60,491 with seats coloured in an electric mix of pink, red, yellow and orange. The football stadium also features a 4000 capacity car park, running track and a fully fledged medical centre. Estimates are that construction of the Abuja National Stadium cost a whopping $360 million.
Based in Lagos, the Teslim Balogun Stadium is home to First Bank FC which plays in the Nigeria National League. The football stadium was opened in 2007 and is named after former Nigeria striker and coach Tesilimi Olawale “Teslim” Balogun. Quite incredibly, it took a total of 23 years to build the stadium! However, it was well worth the wait. On match days, up to 24,325 supporters can pack into the stadium and the atmosphere is always loud and boisterous.
The U.J. Esuene Stadium is the football stadium which Nigeria National League side Calabar Rovers FC calls home (although once upon a time Dolphins FC played here). The stadium has a capacity of 25,000 and features distinctive sections of blue, yellow and green seats. In 2013, Nigerian football fans came in their thousands to watch the Super Eagles play their 2014 Fifa World Cup qualification matches against Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia at the football stadium.
In the Elekahia area of Port Harcourt lies the legendary Liberation Stadium. Since its opening in 2001, the football stadium has hosted some important tournaments including the Fifa under-17 world tournament 2009 and matches played by Dolphin FC in the Confederation of African Football Champions League 2012. The stadium has both sections of blue and red seating and a capacity of 25,000. Whether you are looking to cheer on Dolphins FC or simply passing through Rivers State in Nigeria, the Liberation Stadium is a “must-see” for every football enthusiast.
Our choice to place the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere (Lagos State) in this top-5 list may surprise some Nigerian football fans. This is because the last football match to be played there was in the LG Cup back in 2004 and since then the stadium has been left in a state of disrepair. However, the Lagos National Stadium makes our list due to its prominent place in the history of Nigerian football.
The stadium was built in 1972 and served as the home of the Super Eagles until the Abuja National Stadium was opened. A number of vital football matches were held at the stadium. However, Nigerian football fans will always remember the famous Africa Cup of Nations final held at the Lagos National Stadium on 22 March 1980 when the Super Eagles lifted the trophy following a 3 – 0 defeat of Algeria. Oh the memories!
If you want to read more about that famous game against Algeria and other crucial games in the history of Nigerian football, feel free to check out our page on the Top 5 Super Eagles Games of All Time.
Did you know? The Nigerian football team played their first ever international match on 8 October 1949 against Sierra Leone in Freetown. Nigeria ended up winning by two goals to nil.