Ghana has been told to standby as hosts of next year's fifa Under-17 World Cup if hosts, Nigeria, fail to step up their preparations.
The information was recently received by Nigeria'09 officials and is coming on the heels of the failure by Nigeria to get its act together towards hosting the smallest of the FIFA competitions for boys.
Ghana is also favoured because it played host to the African Cup of Nations early this year where it used (six) stadia - which fits the necessary number of stadia FIFA wants for the competition.
While Nigeria 2009 officials are putting up a brave face publicly, THISDAYSports has learnt that privately they are going through very rough times as events largely beyond their control have conspired to make the hosting process as problematic as possible.
Largely starved of funds and having no control over the rehabilitation of stadia and the other facilities necessary to host the competition, the LOC has relied largely on the goodwill of state governments to put facilities in order ahead of the FIFA visit.
However, most of the states are seriously lagging behind in the race to get their facilities up to the necessary FIFA standards for the cadet World Cup.
Besides state govermnents even the federal government is not making things easy for the LOC with funds meant for the rehabilitation of the federal stadia (Abuja, Kaduna and Enugu) also yet to be released.
Incidentally the inspection team, expected to be led by senior FIFA Vice President Mr. Jack Warner, was tacitly dissuaded from embarking on its scheduled visit last week at the prompting of the LOC, which is acutely aware that should the team had come in it would not have been impressed at all.
The LOC was able to use the burial of late former CAF Executive Member Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo, which took place on Friday as their excuse for asking for the deferment of the inspection visit.
The inspection team has since sent word that it will be making its final visit to the country at the end of the year.
They were to arrive before the end of the month, but have pushed their arrival to the end of the year because of the numerous FIFA programmes like the ongoing Futsal World Cup taking place in Brazil and the Women's U-17 World Cup billed to take place in New Zealand next month.
However, THISDAYSports can reveal that the LOC for Nigeria 2009 is highly relieved by the new date because it is hoped that by then the nation would have been able to make appreciable progress on getting facilities ready for the inspection.
As things stand only two out of the nine intended venues for inspection are likely to pass the FIFA test, they are Abuja and Lagos.
However, even the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos is still undergoing massive renovation with the field yet to be resurfaced and the stands in need of repair. At least Lagos State government is carrying out work on the venue, in most other states nothing appreciable is going on.
The in-house LOC inspection team was alarmed to see that other venues like Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi, Calabar, Ijebu-Ode and Enugu were seriously lagging behind.
The final venue, Warri is likely to be ready since it is playing host to the WAFU U-20 Championships later this month, while the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna should also be ready since the state is hosting the National Sports Festival.
However, more worrying for the LOC is the belief that a number of Nigerians close to the football governing body is feeding FIFA on the true situation of things in the country.
According to a LOC official these Nigerians are believed to have taken pictures of some of the venues and sent to FIFA, which clearly shows that the country might not be ready on time.