Thanks to another NFF payment scandal the Nigerian U-23 football team are in a race against time to make it to Brazil for its opening match on Thursday.
The squad remained on American soil on Wednesday night, and were due to board a flight that would land in the western Brazilian city of Manaus with just hours to spare ahead of their Group B clash with Japan on Thursday.
Their delay, according to multiple reports from journalists following the team, was caused by a payment mix-up between the Nigerian sports ministry and a charter airline company.
“It has been an absolute shambles and the whole thing is a complete embarrassment,” Nigerian soccer expert Colin Udoh told USA TODAY Sports. Udoh said he had spoken to several members of the team who were “devastated and angry” at the situation.
Nigeria’s players had initially thought they would be leaving Atlanta on Wednesday morning. However, when they boarded a flight that their sports ministry had booked with a charter company it was not large enough to carry all of the players, so they disembarked.
A solution was eventually found when the group made contact with another airline, Delta, which was able to provide an aircraft that will depart Atlanta at 1pm UK time on Thursday. The scheduled landing in Manaus is at 7pm UK time, with the match starting seven hours later. However, the multitude of hold-ups affecting Olympic athletes and travelers to Brazil means there is still some trepidation in the camp.