There is no doubt now that the Gunners would not be returning for pre-season tour to Nigeria this summer as it was stated last year by Arsenal Football Club marketing director Angus Kinnear when the planned trip for 2012 pre-season tour failed to materialize due to logistics reasons rather than the insecurity issues back then. But the hope of a possible return to Nigeria is still alive.
The tour organizer Danjan Sports group owned by David Omigie who brought the duo of 2008 F A Cup winner Portsmouth F C and English Premier League winner Manchester United to Abuja in July 2008.
Sport Gimmicks gathered in an exclusive interview with Emeka C. Onyenuforo , the founder of Arsenal Nigeria Supporters club which is the official Arsenal FC fan base organization in Nigeria which according to him was founded in 1999 but got it official recognition with Arsenal in 2005.
A whole lots of people thought the tour was cancelled in 2012 due to the insecurity issues In the northern part of the Nigeria but Emeka C. Onyenuforo was quick to debunk that by saying: “Obviously insecurity was not just on top of it,” he further said: “We have some directors from Arsenal staff, the department which also takes care of responsibilities and the security aspect as well and in terms of the equipment and facilities as well were top notch.
“So most of them have not in any way complained about the security and Danjan Sports group has a credible record of organizing such a thing, they did brought Manchester united to Nigeria and it was successful as well.”
Though he also highlighted that logistics problem was the major problem that scuppered the planned tour some of which were raising a team to Arsenal, putting the stadium in place within a limited time and also said the players welfare was another big concern for them.
When asked why the team could not make the tour this year again as a makeup for the failed tour last he said: “As at the last meeting of the supporters representatives at the Emirates stadium it was revealed to me that the club has not been able to put that to plan that they would be visiting this summer, unfortunately they cannot be able to visit Nigeria this summer.
“They are not saying, we are not saying it would not happen in the near future, you never can tell. It all about what they have on the table from the sponsors who are putting the money to get them over.”
He revealed he would be speaking to David Omigie who he said is out of the country at the moment to know whether it could still happen by next summer.
He also gave an insight as to what Arsenal-Nigeria is and how firm it is as well in terms of organization: “The supporters club has penetrated into various states as a federation by having it branches and representatives which includes Jos, that is Plateau, and we have in Kwara as well, Ofa, and then we have in Abuja and few more other states.”
When particularly quizzed if the fan base has an affiliation with Arsenal F C he said: “This is an official fan base from Arsenal Football Club, the only recognized supporters club for Arsenal Football Club in the country.”
He did not stop without dropping his thoughts on the team and the possible chances of ending the eight years trophy drought then he indicated that the defense line needs to be strengthened and again that Alex Song departure has put a workload on Mikel Arteta who needs someone to compliment his efforts defensively.
Talking transfer speculation now, in his own knowledge he also revealed that underground discussions are still ongoing to bring in Gonzalo Higuain though he claimed nothing official yet and he also reacted to the news linking Luis Suarez to the club: “Suarez, fine but he has some couple of disciplinary records as well which could be a dent for the football club and I couldnt be a fan of that but In a situation when we have got no options then Suarez is a proven striker.” concluded the man who has been supporting Arsenal since he was a nine year old boy.
Arsenal kicked start their pre-season tour in a promising style thrashing Indonesia All Stars 7-0. Unveiling their yellow shirts and blue shorts in Jakarta, academy whizz-kids Chuba Akpom and Kristoffer Olsson scored on their first-team debuts as Arsenal poured on six goals after halftime.
England striker Theo Walcott scored the opener on 19 minutes, Olivier Giroud grabbed a rapid-fire double and Lukas Podolski and fringe midfielder Thomas Eisfeld both scored late on.
Below are the remaining pre-season matches scheduled for Arsenal for 2013.
17 July: Vietnam National Team 22 July: Nagoya Grampus Eight
26 July: Urawa Red Diamonds
3 August: Napoli, Emirates Cup
4 August: Galatasaray, Emirates Cup
10 August: Manchester City,Helsinki