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World Cup Qualifier: Why Uyo will host the Eagles, by Amos Etuk

akwa-ibom-stadium
Akwa Ibom International Stadium

There is a strong renaissance in th‎e support for our senior national football team, the Super Eagles especially as the team sustains her rebuilding process with impressive displays and results under the German Technical Manager, Gernot Rohr who has given a renewed zeal and fighting spirit among the players.

For the first time in a long while, Nigerians have a firm belief that our Eagles will soar with the crop of younger players in the team and the commitment to ensure that Nigeria returns to the summit of African and global football.

Under the leadership of Captain Mikel Obi, the Eagles have gradually re-captured the passion and support the team gladly enjoyed in the glory days as the support in recent fixtures especially the game against Tanzania in Uyo showed the overwhelming support the team presently enjoys.

Despite the several distractions and challenges which the Nigeria Football Federation has had to endure in the past one year, the course of rebuilding the biggest brand export of our country is on course as the Eagles begin the climb back to the top on the FIFA rankings.                                                 The game against Tanzania in Uyo at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium ( Nest of Champions) was a clear reference of the overwhelming acceptance of the team in making Uyo their fortress as the road to Russia 2018 finally kicks off.

The game against Tanzania in Uyo held no significant consequence for our qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations holding in Gabon in 2017 but the passionate support base for the team charted a new course that the players may have fallen in love with Uyo, the fans and the warm hospitality of a great people driven by a rebirth to rise to their faith of greatness as Governor Udom Emmanuel would consistently propel.

Expectations have been high on the choice of were the Eagles will play their World Cup qualifiers especially the first home game against Algeria on November 7,2016.

Though the Nigeria Football Federation is yet to make any formal pronouncement on this choice, the seeming plots by certain persons to stir an unnecessary distraction towards the final choice is not healthy towards the growth of our football especially as we rebuild.

We are aware of sinister moves to plant stories in several national papers that the game is scheduled to hold in Rivers State and just over the weekend, a national daily carried a story how Port Harcourt had been confirmed as the venue for the Algeria home clash.

Unfortunately, the report which quoted the Rivers State Commissioner for Sports , Boma Iyaye as stating that Port Harcourt was ready for the big game never made reference to any official comment or confirmation  from the football body.

While the Commissioner has a right to indicate an interest  for his state to host, he should not be seen as too desperate to lobby to get the choice as Nigerians believe it will be on merit.

When the Akwa Ibom State Government accepted to host the Tanzania clash, nobody including the Rivers State Government believed that a match which held no qualification significant content would generate such passionate support and attention from the city of Uyo.

That game was the very first under our new German Coach, Gernot Rohr, it was the first game under the leadership of Mikel Obi with the new team, it was a game which redefined the new Super Eagles.

The Nest of Champions is barely three years old with new and state of the art facilities. It stands out as an edifice with an aesthetic content built as a modern design to boost sports tourism.

It is a 30,000 capacity seater, all covered up with a scoreboard, more than twelve exits routes, secure location, accessible road network good security , massive parking space and an overwhelming fans support base.                                     .

The Eagles fell in love with the posh Ibom Le Meridien Hotel where they were lodged and the 18hole lush green Golf Course located within the premises as the players took time off on a walk round the Golf course on a psychological walk with the technical crew.

The players felt at home with the city, the peace of the environment, the support of the fans who thronged the stadium even during the training match with Akwa United and the confirmation by Captain Mikel Obi at the post match conference clearly stated that the team was overwhelmed with the support base in Uyo.

The proximity of the airport within minutes to the hotel and stadium further gives Uyo an advantage in the choice and with an array of hotel accommodation in the city in a peaceful environment   clearly makes the choice easy.

Against Tanzania, the Akwa Ibom State Government and the People believed in the Eagles and hosted them. They came, they saw and they conquered leaving with happy memories of their stay.

The team made more friends, built new bridges of love and soared with greater confidence as the observations on the stadium have been addressed adequately.

If these Eagles have started on a winning note in Uyo, there is no need to change a winning home ground. If this team has built a new foundation for success at the Nest of Champions, we should consolidate on this new beginnings.

If these Eagles could attract such a mammoth crowd of supporters in Uyo, let us keep faith with them. If these supporters cheered the team despite the late goal, then we have truly found great patriots in Uyo.

That Governor Udom Emmanuel had faith in these Eagles and was present to lead the cheer for the Eagles despite the significance of the match shows that the Akwa Ibom State Government supports the team in all seasons.

While we await the formal decision of the Nigeria Football Federation on the final choice, we appeal to our brothers fighting so hard to smear the success of the team in Uyo to let the final choice be a decision strictly on merit with a record that has satisfied every stakeholder.

The Tanzanians cherished  their stay in Uyo and I ca assure that Nigeria has scored a major  impression with the delegation to the country as the standards of hospitality is sustained in subsequent matches.

With the rise of the Eagles from their new Nest at the Champions ground in Uyo, we must accept that the strength of the team has found a new home with more victories ahead.

Akwa Ibom is ready to host the Eagles once more.

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