Super Eagles celebrate their win 
On
game day we only had one plan and that was to hit the stadium at 2:30 pm even
though the match was to start at 5pm.
I’ve
always loved to get in early when watching international games in Nigeria as
crowd control had never been a strong point of Nigerians.
Time
without number I had seen how the police and soldiers start physically
assaulting ticket paying fans as it gets closer to match time.
I
had even seen situations where journalists, even with their accreditation tags
find it difficult to get in and I had never been one for stress, so I would
just go in early enough and wait till match time.
But
I had a meeting with Shehu Dikko, the chairman of the League Management
Company, LMC and he agreed that we meet at his hotel room at 11am on game day.
Incidentally
he was at the same hotel with the Super Eagles.
I
wanted it a bit earlier, say around 8am so I could finish my business with him
and go rest for the game, but who was I?
I
had to go with Carl Orakwue and of course I needed a car to take me there and
back and that was how Chuma Nnoli got a ticket to go with us, since he had a
car in Uyo.
We
got the Le Meridien Hotel just as the Eagles were taking a walk around the
hotel.
As
the journalists who were already present there ran in front of them to take
pictures, some gun totting police men tried to stop them.
I
even heard one say in a cruel voice, “If you don’t leave this place, I will
seize your camera,”
These
had to be some of the most untrained policemen in the world or maybe who ever gave
them those instructions were as ignorant as they get.
I
do not want to digress into the importance of allowing the media into such
unofficial events with national team players so I will leave this topic for
another day.
We
met George Essien at the lobby of the hotel and he decided to tag along with
us.
Meeting
with Shehu Dikko was very successful as we talked about the coming Victor Ezeji
Testimonial and then how to improve the Nigerian league.
Having
done that, I stopped at Brown Ideye’s room to pick up my note book forgotten
there two days before and we were off to look for lunch and then to prepare for
the match.
We
went back to Flavour Kitchen and this time I got rice.
Filling up the
Godswill Akpabio/ lessons for state governments
I
had a small argument with Saatah Nubari a day ago as he thought the stadium
would be full to capacity.
I
thought it wouldn’t be because for the last five years Nigerian state
governments had spoiled their fans by declaring gates free almost every time
the Super Eagles played.
I
thought people wouldn’t pay five hundred and one thousand naira enough to fill
up the terraces.
By
the time I was in the stadium at about 3pm I knew it would eventually be a full
house.
The
people kept on streaming in until there was hardly an empty seat left in the stadium.
And
this got me wondering why state governors keep declaring free gates. If people
cannot pay to watch a football game then they should stay home. Better to have
just 500 fee paying fans at the stadium than to declare the gates free.
Soon
enough they’ll know they cannot be spoon fed all the time.
And
the people of Uyo have shown that you can actually fill up a thirty thousand
capacity stadium by buying tickets.
The Eagles are a
beauty to watch
Ogenyi Onazi
The
Eagles are a beauty to watch. They are not perfect, not even close, but a lot
of us enjoyed the football on display.
The
goalkeeper was not as bad as a couple of pundits painted him to be. That
Bentaleeb goal could have beaten any goalkeeper. We have seen Liverpool’s
Coutinho bury even more audacious ones in England.
Then
again, we saw him get frustrated with his players before kicking balls out “aimlessly”
and that was because his players hardly ever opened up space for him and time
and again, we could see him gesticulating at them to make space for balls.
The
defence was still shaky but some pundits will praise them to high heavens.
They
were not woeful, but still shaky.
In
the midfield, the main man was Oghenekaro Etebo who ran the show with
effortless ease.
In
all it was a good game and the team played well.
The shame of the
Conference room
 

The hot, stuffy and overcrowded conference room 

The
Post Match conference was one I would not attend because of the size of the
room.
For
a stadium that sits thirty thousand people, you would first expect a media
tribune that sits at least 500 people, but this one could only sit 30.
But
the worst of all was the conference room of the stadium that couldn’t take more
than twenty people and worse still had no air-conditioning or fans.
Staying
in that place was hell and I wasn’t going to do that.
While
I waited at the lobby for the post-match meeting to end alongside Carl Orakwue,
Peter Abaje, Yinka Elebute and some other Port Harcourt based journalists, the
police soon came and ordered us to leave.
This
was because the Super Eagles players were about to leave the dressing room for
their bus and the police (as illiterate as they showed) and some FA officials
(even more ignorant) were about to use the police to force people out of the
passage way.
Algerian fans mingle with a few Nigerians at the lobby

Funny enough there were a few Nigerian fans there who were chased out but the police did not even speak to the Algerians fans
I
stood my ground and told the police man to tell the Algerians present in the
lobby to leave first and they just couldn’t.
They
rather said the Algerians were our visitors and they couldn’t send them away.
The
Nigerian slave mentality shows that anything that is light skinned is superior
to them and they have behaved that way time and again.

I stood my ground that I would not leave the lobby because as a person with a
press accreditation tag I had permission to be there.
Meanwhile,
they should have allowed at least twenty fans, lucky ones to get into that
place to have a match day experience with the players.
You
cannot keep shielding the players from the fans, both sides need it.
When
I was in Spain for the LaLiga tour that was exactly the same place I waited to
have a selfie with Fernando Torres (I later got one with Saul Niguez).
I
saw some fans wait in the lobby too to take selfies with the Atletico Madrid players
Then
again, you’d ask who the NFF people are that leave these kinds of instructions.
Eventually,
the players started making their way out and got into their bus and after the post-match
meeting was done we departed.
After match party
While
we got some food and returned to our hotel to crash, Queen John, Tamara Ebiwei,
Jessica Amadi and Adebola Adebanjo had headed out to Le Meridien to see some
Super Eagles players, maybe for post-match interviews.
They
returned with Colin Udoh who banged on my door as though I owed him money from
our Uniport days.
It
was 10:30pm and I was ready to shut down.
He
told me he wanted to buy dinner for the girls but since they couldn’t find any
place to do that, they agreed to come and try the fish at the hotel.
Peter
Abaje and Carl Orakwue stayed in the executive suite, so we decided to use
their place upstairs.
Ayo
Ibidapo and Rotimi Akindele joined us a bit later.
Placing
order for the fish was easy, getting the fish ready was the issue.
While
waiting Colin Udoh took some time educating the younger ones on how to do their
jobs better.
An
argument erupted later when I said Colin Udoh was my boy at Uniport while
Tamara claimed her boss at the office, Soni Uboh told her I was Colin Udoh’s
boy.
Lol!
Silly argument, wasn’t it? But we sorted it out later when I insisted that in
my opening statement I said Colin Udoh was my boy in school, operative word
here being “In School” the University of Port Harcourt.



Colin agreed. Silly boy
Imama
Amapakabo had called about 11pm that he was coming to hang out with us and when
we waited until almost 2am and he wasn’t there, I shut down for the night
leaving the rest of them at Carl and Peter’s apartment to enjoy their fish and
gist.
I
woke up to see missed calls from Imama and later found out that he had come in
at about 3 am to see us…
Who
goes to visit someone at 3am wanting to hang out except an Okrika man.
Anyway
I spoke with Imama later on my arrival in Port Harcourt. He was not too happy
that he came all that way and did not meet us, but a simply apology sorted it
out.
The
next Super Eagles diary will probably be in August 2017 since that is the next
time the team will play a serious game.

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