By Akanimo Kufre
The quest to pique fans’ interest in Nigerian football has continued to rise as Gov. Udom Emmanuel has thrown open the Nest of Champion’s gate for Akwa United fans to watch the match against Al Hilal of Sudan on Wednesday.
In a release last week, the governor announced free access for football fans to come and cheer Akwa United to victory. This has come on the hills of huge fans’ influence experienced by Akwa United before home crowd in North African countries as they prosecute their continental assignment.
Despite having the highest population in Africa, Nigerian football league and fans base is nothing to compare with their Central and Southern African counterpart. Of course the Northern part of Africa seems to be way beyond comparison as they are edging closer to the European standard. It is out of place to compare with Nigeria’s experience of league going on near empty stadium.
To solve this problem Dana Air came up with incentives for fans to win Air Tickets at match venue. Similarly, the sports loving Governor has gone a step further to invest in fans’ motivation which which will empirically affect players performance.
The Permanent Secretary, Akwa State Ministry of Youth and Sports, Coach Dickson applauded the Governor’s effort targeted at encouraging the fans.
“This is to give moral boaster and you know the moment the whole state come and cheer up, the players will know that they have supports and it is the best as far as sports is concern. The major means of publicity, Radio ,Tv, social media is going on and the street announcement will equally be going on Tuesday and Wednesday so that awareness will go round for everybody to come and cheer their beloved team Akwa United.”
The media officer of the ‘Promise Keepers’, Mfon Monday said Governor Udom action is a laudable initiative especially by allowing fans who are the ‘12th man’ in any football game to actively be involved.
“It is going to be a big boost because at this time all we are looking for is support. His Excellency has done well to declare that the gates should be thrown wide open for the fans to come in and support the team. At this point when we were at Sudan we played against Al Hilal and over 40,000 fans in the stadium who cheer their team to victory. So we need all the support we can get, it is a big opportunity for the people of the state to enjoy the governors benevolence to come out there and support Akwa United on Wednesday. Of course, you know there will be no football without the fans, so when we get the support of the fans the boys will be motivated and encouraged. Also, I can assure you that the players will turn in the result as we want. We don’t just want to win but qualify into the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup 2018 competition.
The publicity has been massive. The information is there on social media, print and electronic media and people have even been passing the information around verbally by way of discussion among football fans. The information broke out on Saturday and Sunday and I want to believe a lot of fans will be reached by Wednesday morning to cheer Akwa to victory. We are still appealing to media houses, to bloggers and more persons to spread the news so that we will have over 30,000 fans packed into the stadium.”
A fan of Akwa United Fair Joe, who runs a hair saloon wished a Carnival float should go round town with public address system and dancers adorned with Akwa jersey for audience not reached with modern means of mass communication. Another fan and Sport Writer, Solomon, suggested the Governor should visit the Akwa United boys at training pitch as major morale booster and publicity stunt for the all important game.
Meanwhile, the Akwa boys are said to be in very high spirit as they have rested enough in readiness for the Sudanese Club side.
“We came back on Friday from Port Harcourt after playing a re-scheduled match. We rested the whole Friday through Sunday and only resumed training on Monday morning. What I saw is that the boys rested enough, I saw this spark in them, they are determined to go and we do not have any injury worries as we speak except for Aminu Nuhu the young star who picked an injury when we played against Rivers in Port Harcourt last week. Aside that, we have a full house and full strength without much injury worries. It is now left for the Coach to decide the 18 players to make the Matchday squad and the 11 that will start. We have a good team. I can assure you we have the team that will give us desired result on Wednesday.” Akwa Media Officer, Mfon assured.
Similarly, Enyimba FC through its Club Chairman, Chief Felix Anyansi has ordered the gate of Calabar stadium for fans to troop in and cheer Enyimba FC to victory as they will host BIDVest of South Africa in their CAF action on Wednesday, 18th April, 2018.