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SUPER EAGLES LOSS TO SOUTH AFRICA: SEPARATING FACTS FROM CALUMNY 

Sports loving and indeed all Nigerians have been so concerned on the unexpected loss by the nation’s senior football team, the Super Eagles to the South African side, the Bafana Bafana on Saturday, June 10, 2017 at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

In the light of this, the Super Eagles coaching crew led by the Manager, Gernot Rohr and the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have separately previewed the result and offered reasons as to why the Super Eagles lost, and the measures to correct such abysmal outing in order to put the team back in its drive to play at both the Nation’s Cup and World Cup respectively.

It is however unfortunate that while these laudable appraisals are being done by the authorities; a few persons have elected to fan embers of disunity by raising spurious and misleading issues in a bid to misguide the public and possibly influence a change of venue for the Super Eagles outside Uyo.

While nobody may contend the decision as to where matches of the Super Eagles or other national teams may be held, as the decision rests squarely with relevant authorities; it is however distasteful to see how political and mischievous dimensions have been introduced to blackmail Akwa Ibom State and particularly the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium from being used as the designated venue for Super Eagles’ home matches.

Public discourse can never earn the desirable outcome in the face of wicked and fallacious campaigns as being canvassed by the propagandists. The issues are there to examine, which bother on the state of the Super Eagles and the players fielded to play in the ill-fated derby. Employing superstition is completely outside the issue and it is condemnable. 

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The insinuation that Godswill Akpabio International Stadium has an “uneven” surface is laughable. The Sports authorities in Nigeria and beyond do reckon with the stadium and regularly commend the state-of-the-art facilities. So who should complain?

Besides, the football fans’ friendliness in the Uyo match venue is legendary. Can we make recollections as to the harsh treatments meted to the Nation’s team before Uyo was finally considered? Even our Sports authorities have severally commended the fans in Uyo for always supporting the Super Eagles during their matches to the very end irrespective of match outcomes as it happened last Saturday, June 10, 2017.

Do we need to recall that when Nigeria defeated Algeria last year at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo in a World Cup qualifier, that nobody raised any eyebrow or questioned the facilities or any extra mundane issues that might have propelled the team to victory? So, why now? 

We also recall that the Super Eagles went to Zambia last year in a World Cup qualifier and successfully got an away victory and we are aware that the surface of the pitch in Zambia is not comparable to the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
In terms of support, the Super Eagles have found a home in Uyo with the overwhelming passionate support they have enjoyed on and off the field by the Government and people of Akwa Ibom State including sports lovers who travel far and near to watch matches. 

Do we need to remind ourselves that it has happened in some cities in Nigeria where football fans will either boo the Super Eagles or desert the venue for abysmal performances or conceding goals? 

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It is obvious that under such situations, the stadium could have been deserted after the second goal scored by South Africa last weekend, but as patriots, the fans in Uyo sustained their support for the Super Eagles – cheering and singing, all through the encounter irrespective of the final score line. 

We are therefore constrained to advice ‘mischief makers’ who have taken the path to mislead the gullible Nigerian public to refrain from their acts of deceit and to team up with concerned sport-loving Nigerians to pray for the Super Eagles and the Sports authorities as they re-launch the team on the path of victory.

The facilities at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo is so far the best in Nigeria and those who should know, have repeatedly said so, which accounts for the use of the Stadium. 

The present exploits of premier league side, Akwa United Football Club, whose home ground is the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo is a further testimony of the good state of the facilities at the stadium especially their home win against Wikki Tourists of Bauchi in a re-scheduled week 23 fixture three days after Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana clash. 

Let us not introduce any political twist into match venue as being orchestrated against the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium. The hospitable nature of the people of Akwa Ibom State has remained legendary, and having to support the Super Eagles to win matches, it is a task that must be sustained. 

The recent award bestowed on Governor Udom Emmanuel as Football Friendly Governor of the Year during the Nigerian Pitch Awards on June 10, 2017 is a clear testimony of his commitment in driving sports development.  

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Therefore as we discuss the Super Eagles loss to South Africa, let us separate facts from calumny. This is how to be a patriot knowing that football is a rallying point and a tool for national unity.
 
Elder Patrick Albert                      Comrade Solomon Bassey     
State Chairman, NUJ                        State Chairman, SWAN                 
Comrade Amos Etuk                     Comrade Emmanuel Akpan
State Secretary, NUJ                                State Secretary, SWAN 
 
CC:
His Excellency
Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel
Executive Governor
Akwa Ibom State
 
Rt. Hon. Monday Ebong Uko
Hon. Commissioner Ministry of Youth and Sport
Akwa Ibom State
 
Elder Paul Bassey
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on
Sports/Chairman Akwa United Football Club
Akwa Ibom State

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Mr Ibah further added that, Prince Ituen sponsored the largest ever football tournament in the state codenamed, Akwa Ibom State Community Shield, where the champions, Ikot Obio Atai FC, smiled home with one million naira prize money, among other rewards for participating teams. Over 90 teams from the various clans and villages in Akwa Ibom State participated in the tourney, he noted. 

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