EXCLUSIVE! Abuja Stadium pitch turns green, no international match till 2022

Lush green main bowl pitch of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja as at Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Photo by: Harry Awurumibe.

By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau

In spite of the rains pouring down consistently in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to help the growth and maturity of the newly planted grass species, Pure Dynasty Seeded Paspalum in the main bowl pitch of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, it will not still host international matches till the first quarter of 2022.

This is the stand of plant experts who told Prompt News exclusively last month in Abuja that the earliest a football match will be allowed to be played in the new turf is on February 2022.

Prompt News had on August 15 exclusively reported that the new grass species planted in the main pitch after the old type of grasses were excavated will take, at least, six months to be properly rooted and the pitch well manicured for football activities.

An arborist or horticulturist involved in the planting of the Pure Dynasty Seeded Paspalum at the stadium showed our reporter how the new grass species are growing slowly but steadily under strict supervision to understand how it will withstand Nigeria’s climatic conditions.

According to the turf expert who preferred anonymity, the new grass species (Pure Dynasty Seeded Paspalum) will need months to be ready. There will be no football activities on the pitch for the rest of 2021. 

He pointed out that the earliest they can allow for the first football game on the new pitch will be February or March 2022.

However, a visit to the stadium Tuesday, September 22 revealed that the new grass species Pure Dynasty Seeded Paspalum are growing fast, looking green and thick too as the newest and best seeded seashore Paspalum in the seems to have adapted well to the peculiar weather condition of Nigeria. 

Yet, the expert insists that it’s not yet Uhuru, urging Nigerians to be a little patient as they will be better for it when the pitch is approved for use because rushing to play a football match there before January or February 2022 may be counter productive. 

Recall the first seeded Paspalum blend, Pure Dynasty’s breeding objectives included faster germination/ establishment, a tighter density, better disease resistance, excellent wear tolerance, improved spring green-up and stronger overall performance.

Prompt News reports that one of Pure Dynasty’s genetic parents include Platinum TE, Paspalum selected as exclusive turfgrass for 2022 FIFA World Club in Qatar just as it shares the benefits of vegetative paspalum such as salt tolerance when mature, quick recovery, dark green color and an upright growth habit for excellent playability.

It is also the best for Abuja stadium for its durability and maximum flexibility of mowing heights just as it has not, sadly hosted any football event in as many years as the  complex which was built at a whopping $360m to host the African Games in 2003, became an eyesore.

The stadium especially the football pitch deteriorated badly until the incumbent Sports Minister, Sunday Dare through his novel Adopt-A-Pitch Policy got business moguls, Aliko Dangote and Sir Kessington Adebutu aka Baba Ijebu to agree to carry out renovation works at the main bowl pitches of MKO Abiola Stadium Abuja and Surulere National Stadium, Lagos.

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