- Eagles in buoyant mood for Meteors
There is a big buzz in the South–South region of Nigeria as three Heads of Governments from across the West African sub–continent gather for the elaborate commissioning of one of the most magnificent sporting infrastructures in Africa.
President Goodluck Jonathan will lead Ghanaian leader, Dr. John Dramani Mahama and Ivorien President, Dr. Alassane Ouattara to the stately Akwa Ibom International Stadium, Uyo Friday evening, with Governor Godswill Akpabio as Chief Host.
Akpabio is showcasing the majestic facility, which has already been approved by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the crucial 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and South Africa on November 19, as one of the key points of his uncommon transformation of the oil–rich state.
Apart from Presidents Jonathan, Mahama and Ouattara, a number of governors from across Nigeria are expected, while President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick and some Executive Committee members and Management staff arrived in Uyo on Thursday evening.
The 30,000- capacity venue, with a bullet-proof State Box that has 70 seats, has been described by the Vice President of Ghana Football Association, Mr. Fred Crentsil (who was sent by CAF to inspect the venue) as being “among the best you can find anywhere in the world.”
The high point of the commissioning is an international friendly match between the home-based Senior National Team of Nigeria, Super Eagles B, and the U-23 National Team of Ghana, nicknamed Black Meteors.
Friday’s match, and the atmosphere, will provide the perfect tenor for the 2015 Cup of Nations qualifier between the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana in less than a fortnight.
Facilities have been stretched thin in the dainty city of Uyo but the party must go on, and on Thursday, FIFA and CAF Match Commissioner, Etubom Paul Bassey, who is coordinating various aspects of the programme, assured that all arrangements have been concluded for a hitch–free event.
Meanwhile, The Super Eagles team in Uyo for the International Stadium inauguration this Friday, have been showing signs of an exciting encounter at training ahead of the match against the Black Meteors of Ghana.
At Thursday’s evening training that lasted almost three hours, the players were grilled on quick counter attack, fast breaks, robust defending and the need to avoid unnecessary infringements on the opponents. Assistant Coach, Dan ‘the Bull’ Amokachi, was the one dishing out the instructions, with the assistance of Coach Hyandonou Valere and Ike Shorunmu.
The training, which was held at the Practice Pitch of the International Stadium in Uyo, was to later throw up some of the stars that will be seen during this Friday’s game. Apart from established professionals like Chigozie Agbim, Azubuike Egwueke, Christian Osagunna Ighodalo and Gbolahan Salami, there was an excitement in the play of Enyimba of Aba midfielder, Kingsley Isokari and Nigeria league hot shot Mfom Udoh.
At the sessions and those before them, the duo simply stood out and baring last minutes juggling are expected to start the game or come into the match at some point.
The coaching crew kept sealed lips about their start list but acknowledged that some new discoveries have been made that will be catapulted even to the main team. “But I will have to discuss that with the Head Coach,” declared Amokachi on Thursday.