Arsenal prepare for pre-season trip to Nigeria

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Gervinho (L) celebrates scoring for Arsenal against Wolverhampton Wanderers, 27 December, 2011
Ivorian forward Gervinho will be among Arsenal's star names due to visit Nigeria

Arsenal are finalising plans for a pre-season visit to Nigeria this summer.

Officials from the London club visited Nigeria last month to inspect facilities and met with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to discuss the tour, scheduled for July.

On Friday, organisers DanJan Sports and Arsenal officials met at the Emirates Stadium to finalise details.

"Everything is right on track. Nigeria will happen," Arsenal's marketing director Angus Kinnear told BBC Sport.

"We had a successful meeting and covered a lot of ground.

"It's very important to get the right message across to the fans in West Africa and the entire continent.

"There is a strong desire to connect with our fans in Africa and the first step starts in Nigeria."

The club traditionally hosts an annual pre-season tournament at the Emirates Stadium, but they opted to postpone the event for a year because of the 2012 London Olympics.

As part of their preparation for the 2012/13 season, the club have opted to connect with their huge fan base in Africa, by visiting the continent.

David Omigie of DanJan Sports, a Fifa-licensed match agent said: "This is very big because Arsenal has got a huge fan base in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa."

"It was very important to meet others from different departments of the club and everyone is excited with the trip to Nigeria."

In July 2008, DanJan Sports brought two other English clubs, Manchester United and Portsmouth, to the Nigerian capital Abuja for pre-season friendly.

Manchester United took on Portsmouth before Pompey then played against Nigeria Premier League (NPL) side Kano Pillars.

The English Premier League is hugely popular in football-mad Nigeria, with millions of fans following the league on both terrestrial and satellite television.

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