7 minutes with China

By the time you read this piece, I will be in Uyo as a League Management Company, LMC match delegate for the game between Akwa United and Rangers.

It is a game Akwa United will not win because my mission in life is to ensure Akwa United does not win any game that I watch at their stadium.

Now how did this whole thing start? It is happening because that is what the Hierarchy at Akwa United have chosen to believe. That is the campaign they have pushed to the Uyo based media and that is what the media in Uyo have pushed to the people.

In early 2016, I was sitting at my office at Today 95.1 FM Port Harcourt when I got a call from a member of the hierarchy at the LMC.

I remember his words as though it were yesterday. I had just left my job at Dolphins where I had served for about 13 years as Media Officer and the voice on the other end of the line after the exchange of pleasantries said, “Now you are no longer a media officer, we fit send you message?”

And my response was, “Here am I send me.”

Truth is that I had long waited for that call. I had grown tired of being a media officer where you travel every other week and hopefully lose games successfully, then come back home and struggle to win, mostly through the assistance of referees and the boys around the technical area.

The next day which was a Tuesday, I got a text message from the same person saying, “Can you go to Warri tomorrow?” and I responded, “Yes!”

I had no idea what it was to be a match delegate, what I was supposed to do and all. Even though I received an email telling me what to do, I had to call up Sanipe  Damiete and asked him how the do it and he explained the concept of sending match updates, then after the game a match report follows immediately. Then there was the administrative report, the headcount at the stadium and all.

I begged him to send me a copy of his last admin report so I know how it is done and then I called Fisayo Dairo and asked the same favours. Fisayo obliged my request.

That was how I survived my first game as an LMC match delegate on February 24, 2016. Warri Wolves won that one 1-0, a very late goal after Kano Pillars controlled most of the game. How they lost concentration and let that one in is a mystery. That game was also my 911th at a football stadium.

After that game, I was sent to Umuahia on Match 2 for Abia Warriors v Kano Pillars that ended 0-0.

I was in Owerri on March 6, 2016 for Heartland v Lobi that ended 0-0, then on March 20, I made my first visit to Uyo as an LMC Match Delegate for a game between Akwa United and Warri Wolves.

How I put a curse on Akwa United

Akwa United players celebrate a league goal

I had been in Uyo earlier on February 28 to watch Akwa United play Vita Club Mokanda in the CAF Confederation Cup.

Akwa had won the first leg 1-0 away so naturally they should have gone through but they lost 1-0 at home and then the shoot-out 6-5.

On March 20, the league game against Warri Wolves ended 0-0 and a top member of the management sent me a text suggesting I was giving the team bad luck any time I was around as they were not winning. I thought it was a joke so I replied LOL. I had just been to two of their games, a loss and a draw, so how did he reach that conclusion? Well, I believed it was a joke.

On April 10 I was in Uyo again as Match Delegate for Akwa United v Niger Tornadoes and Akwa won 2-0.

April 23 saw me in Uyo again as Match Delegate for my 918th game and Christian Pyagbara scored that blinder that gave Enyimba a 1-0 win in Uyo.

That club administrator sent me a text that went something like this- “I do not want to sound superstitious but don’t you think any time you come here we do not win. This is getting too much of a coincidence.”

Because he was someone I respected so much, I just laughed it off as a joke, after all, I was in Uyo a few weeks earlier and they won comfortably 2-0 against Niger Tornadoes.

I wasn’t posted to Uyo again until June 8 when they played against Sunshine Stars and it ended 3-3.

Funny enough, on the eve of the game, the same club administrator sent me a text message that read, “Can’t you do us a favour and reject any appointment to Uyo?”

After the game that ended 3-3, he sent me a text message saying, “China do not come again. You are giving us bad luck.”

So, he was really serious? But it was not the end.

I did not go for any game in Uyo until 2017, a year later and the first against Elkanemi on March 5 was a 1-0 win for Akwa United.

On July 2, 2017,  I was in Uyo again as match delegate as they battled Enyimba, the ones that dealt with them a season earlier and Akwa won 1-0.

In 2018 I went to Uyo for the game between Akwa United and Al Ittihad which Akwa won 2-0 to qualify 2-1 via aggregate scores.

On May 23 I was in Uyo again to watch Akwa United thrash Go Round FC 3-0. Up until that game, Akwa was winless in the League.

In Port Harcourt in 2019, I watched Akwa United thrash Hope of Glory FC 9-0 and all that thrash talk quietened and there was world peace.

But in the 2019/20 season I was a Match Delegate for the Akwa United v Abia Warriors game that ended 0-0 and then Akwa United v Kwara United game that ended 0-2 and then this rubbish resurfaced.

Suddenly the talks started again that China Acheru was making Akwa United fail to win at home, even amongst journalists who you would expect to be enlightened.

In fact, after the home loss to Kwara United the journalists in the Conference hall were looking at me funny when I walked in for the post-match meeting.  I had to wave at them and sarcastically said, “Yes! I brought the bad luck from Port Harcourt.”

At night I got a call from an Uyo based journalist asking me if Akwa United offended me in any way that made me so angry with them that they couldn’t win any game in my presence. I kid you not. This happened. The journalist also wanted to know if there was anything they could do for restitution. Jesus! I was flummoxed.

Do these people really think I am the one making them falter in Uyo? How?

Straightening out the name-calling

This may be what I take to Uyo to stop Akwa United from winning games

As a kid growing up, my teachers in school would say something like, “A bad workman quarrels with his tools”

Nigerian clubs are used to complaining about the referees, the state of the pitch, the weather and even live television. But Akwa United took it a notch further outdoing even the pettiest of football clubs by claiming a particular journalist gives them bad luck whenever he watches their games? Wow! As is said on Social media, “Nothing wey Dokubo no go see for creek!”

Out of twelve Akwa United games I watched in three years, the stats are six wins, three draws, and three losses.

Akwa United have a good team. They have always had a good team, at least since the Abdu Maikaba days. They must focus on their team and leave pettiness.

But will Akwa United beat Rangers?



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