My unpublished Super Eagles Uyo diary

I
actually wrote this diary on Friday, September 1, 2017 and was about
to publish when a series of unfortunate incidents ensured I did not.
However, thank goodness all is not lost and i am publishing it
unedited.

i actually initially titled it, “My Super Eagles Uyo Diary Day 1: My Uyo nightmare.



No one is as excited as they
were last time when we were all here for the game against South
Africa.

At least not every one and
they are truly not hiding the fact that they are not as excited and
as enthusiastic.

The truth is as much as a lot
of die hard Nigerians would want to play hard ball, they know deep
down in their hearts that the Cameroonians are here for no tea party.

Nigeria may have a 4 point
cushion at the top of their qualifying table but worst case scenario
it could be 1 point by Friday night and we could be 2 points behind
the Cameroonians by Monday.

That is how apprehensive the
people are in this town and they have not hidden it.

Between the Nigeria Football
Federation and the Akwa Ibom State government, security at the Super
Eagles hotel, I hear was heightened with extra deployment of
Department of State Security, DSS and soldiers?

When we were here for the game
against South Africa, there was DSS involved in security at the hotel
and when one of them told me they were sent there to ensure the
Eagles stayed focused on the game, my response to him was that we
love to put pressure on ourselves.

My thinking then was that, we
had played against Zambia and Algeria in Uyo and if we suddenly had
DSS shoving people around against South Africa, it would create the
impression that there was something eerily different about the game,
the cause of pressure sometimes.

But I digress. We lost to
Bafana, didn’t we?

I didn’t for once go to the
Super Eagles hotel because I am not big on sycophancy and eye service
which was what I thought the DSS official would portray in a bid to
show their employers that they were doing a good job.

I’d
have to be careful at the press conference room though
Over packed press room in Uyo

But my Uyo nightmare actually
has nothing to do with the game but what happened the last time I was
in this town for a League match.

It was one between Akwa United
and Enyimba and after the game we went as usual to the conference
room for the post match rituals.

There were about 12- 15 of us
there and as I placed my recorder in front of the coaches, I stepped
back a bit, asked 2 questions then listened to the responses of the
coaches to the others.

At some point, an Uyo based
journalist standing next to me, asked permission to use my glasses
case to hold his recorder in place.

After the press conference we
all left the stadium as the former media officer of the home club,
Uwem Ekoh dropped me off at my hotel.

As soon as I got to the hotel
I realised I had left my glasses at the stadium’s conference room
and immediately put a call to the media officer of the club, Mfon
Patrick who told me to back to get it with assurances that it would
be in there as he trusted his journalists.

To cut the long story really
short I never got it back. Even when I spoke with the likes of
Promise Etim who all assured that no Uyo based journalist would have
picked it up, I never got a positive response.

I loved those glasses and it
casing. It also cost me a fortune. But whoever took it and thought he
had made a conquest is a complete fool because he can’t even wear
them.

It is going to be a mad house
for this game with at least 100 journalists from all over the
country. One has to be careful.

Having cleared that off my
chest, I left Port Harcourt as usual early on Thursday morning to Uyo
and after managing to go past the Akpajo-Eleme terror road, it was
smooth driving to Uyo.

Ekine Moseph, Queen John,
Fisayo Dairo, Emeka Dennar and Bibian Onwugbolu from Port Harcourt
were already on ground.

I had no plans to go the to
Super Eagles Hotel, I never do on the eve of games so I just stayed
indoors to continue to monitor something important

Transfer
Deadline Day

I had more than 100 Gigabytes
of data on my Mifi so I had been streaming Skysports News all the way
from Port Harcourt checking if my club, Liverpool had signed Thomas
Lemar or Virgil Van Dirj.

When I got into my apartment,
my protege, Ekine Moseph came visiting and we discussed the European
Transfer Deadline Day, analyzed what we thought were incoming
transfers and asked ourselves some tough questions.

Why can’t we have Transfer
Deadline Day in Africa?

I reminded Moseph that the
South Africans had Transfer Deadline Day that aligned with that of
Europe and he pointed out that the Egyptians had something of that
nature and we wondered why we were not that organized in Nigeria.

I let him know that in thought
we thrived on disorganization and pointed out that there are lots of
people in the Nigerian football scene that make fortunes because of
disorganization and would fight with their lives to see that Nigerian
football is not as organized as it is so they can continue their
racketeering.

In any case, we followed the
Transfer Deadline Day as much as we could until the rest of the
contingent from Port Harcourt arrived – Carl Orakwue, Tonye
Orabere, IK Wigodo, Sammy Omaenikun, Okey Onwugbonu, Faith Oluchi,
Gabriel Nwanetanya, Uche Abugo, Oluwafemi Balogun and a few others.

Stadium
for accreditation
Waiting to get accredited 

Rooms taken (I had reserved 20
rooms at this hotel two weeks ago because the Port Harcourt
contingent had sequestered it last year) we rested a bit
before heading out for accreditation and to watch the Cameroonians
train.

Naturally, it was a closed
session so you would only be permitted to watch the first fifteen
minutes and off you go.

It was the Super Eagles next
and the same thing was first fifteen minutes and off we went.

As usual, the NFF media team
would delay the start of accreditation and keep people waiting so it
was not until 7:30 pm that the whole process started.

Tags in hand, we were off to
end the day.

A
great reunion
Arafat Aliu had “boycotted” Super Eagles games for a while

It was great to see Oluwashina
Okeleji again. We have great history together since 2004 when we both
wrote for a man called Wilson Bodise and www.nigeriasports.com
and great memories working together.

It was also good to see Arafat
Aliu again. I hadn’t seen him at a Super Eagles game since the time
late Stephen Keshi was coach in 2012/13.

Lolade, formerly of goal.com
was also present and it was great to see him.

But like I keep saying, that
is what these games are for. Aside from the fact that we all come
here to get news for our newspapers, blogs, radio and TV shows, it is
also a great re-union for colleagues, some of whom get to meet just
on the field.

Nigerians
like over sabi
Man in jeans and hooded sweat shirt instructed refs not to take pictures

Something happened while we
were walking into the stadium. The match officials also walked in at
that point and some journalists stopped them to take pictures which
they obliged.

Suddenly, their guide, a
Nigerian, I think from the home state, suddenly turned around, looked
at what was happening and from about 20 meters shouted in and angry
voice, “Hey! Stop taking those pictures! Leave that place now.”

And I got really angry.

I walked up to the fellow and
asked him if he thought those referees were kids or if they had no
right to stop and take pictures with people who requested.

Because Nigerians are really
like this.

But that was just me being…
fill up the blank spaces.

Dinner
with Uche and the crew

Uche Abugo was a Port Harcourt
based Sports broadcaster and had threatened to host the team from
Port Harcourt in Uyo. This threat had been going on for about 3 weeks
and the time was nigh.

Even though some of us thought
we were tired after the long day, Tonye Orabere decided we should
just honour a person who wants to host us by attending it and so we
all went.

Gabriel Nwanetanya was to
drive the bus and couldn’t make it but he later thought he would
just drop us there and then we find our way back.

He later said he could stay 30
minutes with us but eventually we were there for more than one hour.

I will not say what happened
at Uche’s place. Just the pictures that speak thousands of words.

Dinner at Uche Abugos

Oluwafemi Balogun in black, Okey Onwugbonu engrossed and Uche Abugo hides the ball in his stomach

The CEO bloggers, Ekine Moseph acting like he is not interested in the lem

After the meal, veterans like Carl Orakwue, Gabriel Nwanetanya and Tonye Orabere had to step down

My night cap 

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