Soccer: Nigerian players problems with getting visas will affect matches in London

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Abuja (AFP) – Nigeria could avoid playing friendlies in London from now on because of problems obtaining visas for staff and players, coach Gernot Rohr has said.

The Super Eagles played Senegal at non-league Barnet’s ground in north London last Friday, drawing 1-1, but a second scheduled match against Burkina Faso on Monday had to be called off.  The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said seven Burkinabe players failed to secure British entry visas.

Rohr said several of his players also found themselves unable to travel, including defenders Kingsley Madu, of Belgian side Zulte Waregem, and Musa Mohammed, who plays with Zeljeznicar Sarajevo.

The German coach said he will now suggest that friendlies and training camps be arranged on mainland Europe to avoid further difficulties as it was “too complicated to get visas” in Britain.

“I think it’s better to stay in Schengen, in Europe, than go to London where the people have problems. Even some players in our team couldn’t come, you know. They didn’t get the visa in time.”

Britain is not part of the Schengen zone, where there are no border controls between signatory countries and where international travellers require only a single visa for travel.

Currently, 26 European countries are part of the area.

Rohr told reporters in London on Monday night that Nigeria tried to find a last-minute replacement when it became clear the match would not go ahead against Burkina Faso.

Officials from Burkina Faso were reportedly told the application would be completed in Morocco, where the team was playing on Friday, as there was no British mission in Ouagadougou.

But the applications were still pending when the mission closed for the weekend.

Rohr, who has previously managed national sides Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso, has worked mainly with players based in mainland Europe since he took charge of Nigeria last year.

The former Bordeaux player and coach, who has also managed several European domestic sides, including Ajaccio, has said it costs less to do so and the facilities are better than in Nigeria.

Nigeria plan to set up a training camp in France in May and play a friendly against Corsica as part of preparations for a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa in June.

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