Abakaliki – Fans of Chelsea FC of England on Tuesday in Abakaliki broke into uncontrollable celebrations following their team’s qualification for the final of the UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea achieved the feat after a hard fought semi-final encounter against the defending champions, FC Barcelona of Spain, at the Nou Camp in Spain.
The English team parading Nigerian international, Mikel Obi, drew 2-2 with Barcelona to qualify on a 3-2 aggregate.
Following the outcome, the fans trooped out into the major streets of Abakaliki, singing the team’s praises and continued their merriment in nearby drinking joints.
At Ugwuachara area for instance, the fans sang victory songs which went thus:, ‘Chelsea this is our year, ‘Man United, Arsenal and others must bow to the Blues’, ‘Barcelona, your time is up’
Vitalis Okike, one of the jubilating fans, said that he was experiencing the most memorable moment of his life, as a Chelsea supporter, as no one gave the team a chance.
“This is a testimony to the fact that Chelsea still remains the best club in England, in spite of the recent upheaval in the club.
“Roberto De-Matteo has shown this by turning around the team’s fortunes this season, which proves that a coach’s capabilities are not measured by his status but by his ability to perform.
“The fact that Chelsea is the only English side remaining in the competition speaks volumes about their quality,’’ he said.
The fans of other English teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool, among others, also joined in the celebration in an unprecedented show of solidarity.
Chukwudi Ofor, a Manchester United fan, expressed delight at the victory, stressing that it has confirmed that Barcelona was not an invincible side after all.
“Prior to this defeat, Barcelona had treated the game as if it was their exclusive.
“This posture of theirs had attracted undeserved sympathy from match officials, which was vividly illustrated for all to see in the match and yet they lost out.
“Real Madrid last Saturday denied it this season’s Spanish La Liga title; while Chelsea has denied it the chance of playing in the final of the champions’ league again.
“This is a sharp contrast to last season when it won all the available trophies in European and World football,” he said.
Restaurants and pub owners in Abakaliki made a kill from the celebrations, as most of them exhausted their stocks.
Mrs Euphemia Udu, a pub operator at Moses Ofoke Street in Kpirikpiri, and a football enthusiast, noted that she had to replenish her stock twice within the space of an hour.
“I wish foreign clubs who draw immense support from Nigerian fans would continue with their winning spree to enable us to benefit from this kind of windfall.
“This is a challenge to Nigeria’s soccer authorities, to do everything possible for our clubs to draw such support from soccer fans,” she said. (NAN)