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Super Eagles loss to South Africa: NUJ/SWAN decry campaign of calumny

”It is unfortunate that while laudable appraisals are being done by Coach Gernot Rohr and the Amaju Pinnick led NFF to bring the Super Eagles back on track after a disastrous outing in Uyo, a few persons have elected to fan embers of disunity by raising spurious and misleading issues in a bid to misguide the public and influence a change of venue for subsequent Super Eagles matches.”

Super Eagles forward Oghenekaro Etebo (C) tries to outwit South African defence during their 2019 AFCON qualifier at Goodswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Photo: AFP

This is the kernel of a press statement released in Uyo and jointly signed by the Akwa Ibom Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists and Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Akwa Ibom State.

The bodies argued that while nobody may contend with the NFF as to where matches of the Super Eagles or other national teams may be held, …it is however distasteful to see how political, non sporting and mischievous dimensions have been introduced to blackmail Akwa Ibom State and in particular the World acclaimed facility that is the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium from being used as the venue of Super Eagles home matches.

“The insinuation that the Nest of Champions has an “uneven” surface is laughable and a figment of the writer’s imagination.”

The Press release wondered why the surface was not uneven when the Eagles beat Algeria on the same pitch in a World Cup qualifier.

“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 …yet they won.

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?”

“Last Saturday, Uyo fans stayed with the team, hoping and praying till the ominous final whistle of the Tunisian referee.”

Coach Rohr, Super Eagles players and indeed the leadership of the NFF have severally applauded the hospitality sports loving Governor Udom Emmanuel has brought to bear on the team outside the Excellent infrastructure that elevates the stature of this country in the comity of football playing nations.

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 venues as being orchestrated against the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.  We align with the thoughts of President Pinnick and Coach Rohr that we did not play well, that this is a “welcome wake up call” and agree that the Eagles still stand a bright chance of qualifying for both the World Cup and the Nations Cup.

“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.”



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