The Godswill Akpabio stadium has emerged as the traditional home ground for the National team. A stadium built a few years ago by former Akwa Ibom state governor Godswill Akbabio as one of his many legacies for the state after eight years of selfless service has suddenly become a National monument reserved for rescue missions.
Nigeria’s first match at the nest of champions was the friendly with the black stars of Ghana, where homeboy Emem Eduok scored the lone goal to open the stadium on a victorious note.
That victory didn’t come easy though as the home based Super Eagles team struggled for form and pace to defeat a weak Ghana National team.
Since that day, till date, the Super Eagles have always found life rather unbearable not only on a bad surface, but also in an environment full of many off field distractions. The team camp site at the Le Meridien hotel is a 45 minutes drive from the stadium but beyond that, the hotel is always a behive of activities anytime the Eagles are in camp. Most times, the players are lodged in the first and second floors in the B wing of the hotel, while the C and D wings are reserved for other purposes not to be discussed here.
The stadium has brought us more sorrows than joy, our boys have laboured in vain on several ocassion to impress but the result, is not always commiserate with our performance on the day. What really could be responsible for this?
Well trust me to always dig deep.
In my desperate need for an answer to this begging question, i came across a 65 year old palmwine tapper, who told me he was born and bred up in Itam, a town, just on the outskirt of the state. He was at the stadium on that day to see the match and like everyone, he left the venue disapppointed after another poor result.
He accosted me just as i was about to board a keke napep to the Super Eagles hotel. Am sure he saw the media tag on my neck so he decided to speak out all he had stocked in his head for well over two years.
Are you a midiea man (media man ) he said in the usual Calabar intonation. I said yes as he pleaded we enter the keke together. Off we go! and soon, the discussions began.
” My names are Joshua Effiong Bassey he said smiling. I am a son of the soil from Itam in Cross Rivers state. My son, this story i am about to tell you is very important to the future successes of the Super Eagles at the Godswill Akpabio stadium. The gods of the land are angry and must be apoeased urgently he said grinning his teeth. How do you mean i retorted?
That land where the stadium is situated is a cursed land he said smiling. Till this day, the owners of the land are crying that they were not properly compensated by those who bought the property. The sellers are not the original owners of the land, it was a disputed property and they took advantage of their connections in government to sell the land without consulting our fathers who toiled for several years to make the place very fertile for football.
These old men are women are wallowing in abject poverty in those small villages around the stadium while some persons continue to enjoy from.their sweat. They have built mansions for themselves in Uyo, they have married new wives and sent the former ones away. Those women too have joined in raining curses on the land which is their source of wealth.
Before the match with Algeria, these men came to appease the land, they offered sacrifices to the gods and we made all the necessary atonements. That was how we got a resounding victory. Men were standing with calabash on their head while the game was going on, they were busy figthing some unknown spirits living far and near. That match almost went bad when the Algerians made it 2-1 but Victor Moses emerged with the third and everyone was happy on the day.
None of you including you journalists who claim to know so much, knew what was happening three forests behind the stadium.
For this game, we started appeasing the gods since friday last week, we had gone so far but as at Saturday morning, they refused to show up with the money, they were not there to fulfil all the promises made so we called on the rain and it came with thunderstorm. The whole sacrifices done in five days of sleepless nights was washed away in just six hours . It was tough all night. I was there, my mother is from this village, i am 65 but my mother is still very much alive. She is a victim and i have sworn to help her fight for her rights. If that money was paid before 12AM on Saturday, the scoreline would have been 3-0 in favour of Nigeria but because they renaged on their promise, we reversed everything Mr Joshua concluded”
I went on to ask more questions and answers were promtly provided but these answers will be kept for my next publication which should be out latest Saturday this week.
Before this latest defeat, the Eagles struggled and lost 1-0 to Uganda at the Godswill Akpabio stadium, drew 2-2 with South Africa, a result that ended Nigeria’s 2015 Nations cup dreams and defeated Tanzania 1-0 in another hard earned victory.
The 3-1 win against Algeria remains the only sweet victory recorded by the Super Eagles on this pitch. Now some eggheads of the football house have started the search for a new home ground for the Eagles ahead of the World cup qualifying match with Cameroon in September. These men are not also happy at the fans for their mute support. They hardly sing when their National team is down. Even when we needed their support it was not forthcoming. One thing about fans at the National stadium in Abuja, even if we have 5,000 fans present, they will remind the boys of the need for goals. You will see the mexican wave and you will hear ‘ALL WE ARE SAYING, GIVE US ONE GOAL’.
That was not there on Saturday. Coupled with the fact that we had a divided supporters club before the game, everyone just went quiet.
Let’s not see this as another joke, lets investigate the possibilities seriously and take out what is needed going forward one top official said in a telephone conversation.
We cannot afford to draw with Cameroon talkless of losing another said.
A word should be enough for the wise.
…. Report compiled by staff reporter of NSM in Uyo.