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Ukraine-Russia crisis

'The whole system is down' - Nigerian footballer stranded in Ukraine tells of fight for survival

14:06 GMT+3 28/02/2022
Ukraine protest in Lviv
Michael Obamina has spoken exclusively to GOAL about his experiences during the ongoing invasion

Nigerian midfielder Michael Obamina has described his experiences of being stranded in the Ukrainian city of Lviv during the ongoing Russian invasion of the Eastern European country.

Obamina, who plays for Rukh Lviv, was one of six Nigerian players based in Ukraine at the start of Russia’s large-scale advance on its neighbour.

Currently unable to leave the city, Obamina has shared with GOAL some of the things he’s witnessed since military convoys first entered Ukrainian soil on the orders of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

'Everybody is just fighting for survival'

“It’s basically been one of the most devastating moments of my life and career,” Obamina told GOAL. “Just a few days after arriving back from our mid-season tour of Turkey, the Russians invaded the country and it’s been really messy, really crazy, these past few days.

“Everybody is just fighting for survival and trying to breathe, trying to get air, just make sure you live to see the next day,” he added. “[We’re] just trying to live.”

'Almost the whole system is down'

Lviv, Ukraine’s westernmost city, has become a haven of sorts for Ukrainians trying to flee, with the town’s location only 70km from the border with Poland making it a natural stop-off point for those attempting to enter the European Union.

Nonetheless, the city’s immediate future is uncertain, with air raid alerts having been activated and armed Ukrainian solders present in the urban metropolis as the conflict edges closer.

“Right now the country is in a state of emergency, and almost the whole system is down,” Obamina continued. “Everything is shut down, the only systems working right now are hospitals, maybe grocery stores, the supermarket just to get food, and it’s maybe only [open] in the morning.

“When you go out you see many casualties,” the 18-year-old added. “There is fear, anxiety, and accidents happening here and there within and outside the city.

“People are really anxious to get out of the city and the country, and there are casualties on the road. It’s crazy.

“A couple of times we tried to get out but we’re just stuck here right now.”

Obamina's career

Obamina signed for Rukh Lviv five months ago, joining directly from Super Stars Football Academy in Uyo, in his homeland.

The club’s initial attempts to move him to Europe from Nigeria were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, with the youngster yet to make his debut for his new club’s senior side.

Of the other Nigerian players based in Ukraine at the start of the invasion, London-born Vic Solomon-Otabor - also on the books of Rukh Lviv = has secured safe passage back to the United Kingdom.

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