2022 CAF Confederation Cup Final: Akwa Ibom State, Signposting Nigeria To Global Football As Africa s Gather In Uyo
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By Amaechi Agbo And Agency Report
The newly built utral modern Godswill Akpabio International Stadium,in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State will be cynosure of all eyes as the oil rich state hosts Africa’s second most prestigious continental league final, the CAF Confederation Cup.
The showdown between South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and Morocco’s RS Berkane will be played at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in the Akwa Ibom state capital, in Nigeria and will kick-off at 20h00 local time (19h00 GMT).
Uyo and Godswill Akpabio Stadium will be the first Nigerian city and stadium to host either the one-match final of the Confederation Cup or the Champions League.
Before Uyo 2022, Nigeria previously through Lagos hosted the 1975 and 1984 CAF Champions League finals in a home and away format, followed by Ibadan in 1988 and 1996 before Aba in 2003 and Abuja in 2004, then recently Owerri in 2009 after Port Harcourt hosted the CAF Confederation Cup final in 2005.
City Presentation and Preparation
It is the first intercontinental major Cup final to be hosted in Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital and the home of Professional Football League side Akwa United.
Following the confirmation of Uyo by CAF, the locals could not hide their joy ahead of the highly anticipated Confederation Cup final, including General Coordinator of the LOC, Paul Bassey.
“Aƙwa Ibom is glad to represent Nigeria in this regard,” Bassey, who doubles as Akwa United chairman told CAFOnline
“This is a continental assignment and Akwa Ibom had to do it on behalf of Nigeria and this stadium apart from being one of the best in Africa, it’s also the best in the country.
“When CAF came to Uyo, they saw that it was fit enough to host, and it’s not only about the stadium, the Ibom Specialist Hospital is world class, then, of course, the hotels we have 5 stars. “Also the airport facility among others and then the experience because we have hosted big games before, for Uyo people, this is huge and we have that culture of coming out in a mass.”
Stadium and security
Launched in 2014, the Godswill Akpabio Stadium is a 30000-capacity seater modelled after the Allianz Arena in Germany and has served as the home to the Nigerian Super Eagles.
It is arguably the most beautiful stadium in Nigeria situated in Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Boulevard, Uyo and notably, referred to as The Nest of Champions. The ultra-modern sports complex boasts bulletproof VIP and VVIP areas, natural grass, high-tech floodlights, a training pitch, a helipad, and collapsible seats. For security, It has 30 emergency exit points, closed-circuit security cameras, stand by firefighting equipment and metal detectors.
Fans and atmosphere
In a bold move to fill up the stands of the stadium and guarantee a high-decibel atmosphere for the final, Akwa Ibom state governor Udom Emmanuel has purchased all tickets to give to fans who wish to cheer the teams free of charge.
Explaining the move, Bassey, who was the General Coordinator for the 2017 CAF Super Cup, said: “The state government in its wisdom wants people to turn up. That’s why he [Governor Udom] came out to say the state will take care of all the tickets just to make sure that people come.
“The excitement is huge, people are everywhere and want to come, it’s 8 pm local time in the evening, what this means is that you can go to work, to the market go back home rest and take a shower, come with your family and watch.
“Uyo by all standards is one of the safest states in the country, it’s also an advantage for Uyo, for us, the atmosphere is great, people are excited, a lot of businesses has been done, hotels are fully booked, the place is buzzing. So in the neighbouring states, Cross River, Abia State, people are anxious to come in and watch.
“That is what it is. It is novel, it is new. Kudos to Nigeria, Kudos to Akwa Ibom and we are working round the clock to deliver something everyone will be proud of.”