Nigeria begin their preparation for the World Cup with a friendly against Poland on Friday. Four days later, the Super Eagles face Serbia at The Hive, Barnet’s home ground.
The game against the Serbians won’t be the Super Eagles’ first at the facility, as they hosted friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso in March 2017.
It’s the little matter of 4,377 miles from Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, to Barnet – a total of 97 hours of driving time from one of the west African country.
Barnet is also more than 1,320 miles or 21 hours driving time from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.
So, why is a home game for Nigeria – being played in Barnet?
One of the reasons is that nearly all of their squad is European based, with Victor Moses (Chelsea) and Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) being among their other English-based players. The rest are spread across Italy, Spain, Turkey, Belgium and other countries.
Sports management company Eurodata Sport are behind the arrangement, having worked with Nigeria among other international federations to find locations for friendlies.
Eurodata views Barnet’s Hive ground as “a high-standard stadium which provides Nigeria with everything they need in one location, hence making it a very suitable place for them to play friendlies.”
The League Two team’s stadium, which was only opened in July 2013, houses 5,176 and has a neighbouring new training ground and centre of excellence.
The training centre was opened at the site by England and West Ham legend Trevor Brooking and then-England manager Fabio Capello in 2009.
Other facilities have been added at the 44-acre site, including a banqueting suite, bar and lounge as well as a gym, which is open to the public and also used by the players.
The likes of Brazil, Spain and Chile have also used Barnet’s facilities over recent years, having trained at the club’s training ground.
Iheanacho scored an 83rd minute penalty to secure a 1-1 draw against Senegal, but the game four days later against Burkino Faso was cancelled after seven players failed to gain UK visas.
The Nigeria squad are using Barnet as their base throughout the international break but fly out to face Poland, in Wroclaw, on Friday.
Adapted from Leicester Mercury