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Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 16:49 UK

Fifa happy with Nigeria progress

By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Lagos

flag of Nigeria
Fifa are happy with Nigeria's under-17 World Cup preparations

Fifa has praised Nigeria's preparations for next year's Under-17 World Cup on its latest inspection visit.

Football's world governing body said it is encouraged by reforms undertaken by the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) in Nigeria ahead of the 2009 tournament.

Back in February a Fifa delegation that inspected designated stadiums had warned Nigeria that it must improve the state of facilities for the tournament.

Jack Warner, a Fifa vice president, then suggested the country install artificial pitches for the event.

But four months later, the team seems to be more impressed: "We are happy Nigeria followed the road map we gave them for the improvement of facilities (in February)," Fifa's director of competitions Jim Brown told BBC Sport on Friday.

"We found out the LOC have gone a long way in putting things in place and we are confident the tournament will be a success next year.

Meanwhile Brown also pointed out that the government have been warned not to interfere in the job of the Local Organizing Committee.

We are confident the tournament will be a success next year.

Fifa's director of competitions, Jim Brown

"One thing we have made clear is that the sports minister as well as the state governors should let the LOC do their jobs without interference," Brown added.

"We have told the government we cannot accept that in football. We have spent so much money and the LOC have spent money as well just to let this thing go off as planned."

The delegation led by Jack Warner rounded off their five-day visit with an inspection of the facilities in Calabar and Ogun State in Nigeria.

"We are all excited with what we have seen and we hope this will quell speculation of us taking the tournament elsewhere. It will happen here [the Under-17 world cup] that is for sure." Jack Warner told BBC Sport.

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