Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo wants the Confederation of African Football to set minimum standards for playing surfaces that host international matches on the continent.

The Nigeria defender was speaking following the last but one weekend of qualifying matches for the 2012 African Nations Cup which saw three Nigerian players picking up pitch-related injuries.

Yusuf Ayila picked up a groin injury and was forced to withdraw from the Nigeria squad when he stepped on a bad portion of the pockmarked surface of the Abuja National Stadium while training.

Victor Anichebe and Emmanuel Emenike, who did play the said game, suffered injuries playing on the terrifyingly chequered surface in Antananarivo.

Anichebe has now been ruled out for three months, and will take no part in Nigeria’s final game against Guinea.

Yobo says it is time for CAF to take firm action

“I think its about time they looked into things like this.

“The pitch in Madagascar was very poor. That pitch and the one we played in Ethiopia, I dont know which one is worse.

“I don’t think that we as professional players should be made to play on pitches like these. Its really terrible.

“This is something that CAF and the national teams have to look into. They dont have to wait until something disastrous happens before they realise that it is very dangerous.

“I dont think it is ideal for anybody to play on surfaces like this.”
The Nigeria skipper, who has traversed the continent in 10 years of playing international football for Nigeria, says pitch conditions have become progressively worse, and suggests that CAF should take decisive action

“I’ve been around a few years and I believe it is getting worse. Its about time they look into it.

“Countries that cannot provide good pitches should be made to play their games to a place where they have good pitches,” he said.

Although most African federations are cash-strapped, Yobo insists that they can afford the cost of maintaining pitches to basic standards

“It does not cost that much to have a good pitch. We are not asking for the type of facilities we have in Europe, we’re just asking for a pitch where you can bounce a football and pass a football and be able to run with a football without worrying about getting injuries.

“We are not asking for an excellent pitch just an average, good pitch that you can play on with peace of mind.”

Have your say. We'd love to know what you think.