Akwa United: Can The Promise Keepers Keep The NPFL Title Hope?
By Amaechi Agbo
Akwa United got their destiny in winning the 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL title chase in their hands after they trashed Warri Wolves 3-0 in matchday 34 encounter to open a 6-point gap at the summit of the log.
Their position was consolidated no thanks to bad results their closest pusurers Nasarawa United, Kano Pillars recorded.
Prior to the midweek fixtures, Akwa United, styled the “Promise Keepers” were three points ahead of the other two but that gap widened after Kano Pillars succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in the hands of Rangers International FC of Enugu while Nasarawa United lost a five-goal thriller against a 10-man Lobi Stars in a North-Central derby.
Right now, with four matches to play and 12 points to grab, Akwa United need to win at least three matches to guarantee their championship status, a feat that is not improbable considering that the Akwa Ibom State owned club had gone 18 matches unbeaten in the concluding season.
Akwa United FC ‘s Journey Into The Nigeria Elite League
Founded under the name, Ibom Stars, the story of Akwa United is that of endurance, perseverance and resilience. The club has risen from being a mid table team in the NPFL to title contenders.
After paying her dues in the Pro League ( Lower Division) for almost ten years, Ibom Stars gained promotion to the Nigeria Premier League in 2007/2008 season.
The story of that promotion was surrounded by controversy following the team’s 13-0 thrashing of neighbours Calabar Rovers at Oron Township Stadium on the last day of the season in the Pro league to edge Bussdor FC and qualify to the top flight.
The management of the Club led by Mr. Chris Ekong applied for a change of name which was duly granted by the League body. Ibom Stars was gone and Akwa United FC was born, nicknamed THE PROMISE KEEPERS.
In their first season in the NPL, the team competed as Akwa United FC and played its home matches at Uyo Township Stadium. They adopted Blue jersey for its home matches and White Jersey for its away matches.
After their promotion to the NPFL, they were soon relegated but battled their way back to the NPFL. Since their return, the Promise Keepers have not looked back.
They are favourites to win the 2020/2021 NPFL title after a fine run of form. Coach Kennedy Boboye, who also lifted the NPFL title with Plateau United, has turned the fortunes of the side. The team play good football and has a collection of young players.
This season, the two-time Aiteo Cup champions went on an 18 game unbeaten streak, the longest in the history of the NPFL. The departure of their main striker, Ndifreke Effiong, did not really affect the side as the team has continued to be on a smooth sail to the title, except any last minute drama
After Ndifreke Effiong left the side, Charles Atshimene and Ubong Friday stepped up and have been getting the goals for Kennedy Boboye’s team. With his brace against Warri Wolves, Charles Ashimene took his NPFL goals tally to 14.
To show the quality in this side, three of their players were part of the home based Super Eagles team that played a friendly game against Mexico in the US, and two of them started the game. Olisa Ndah, who has been the rock in Akwa United’s defense started alongside Abia Warriors’ Adekunle Adeleke while Charles Ashimene started as the lead striker
The progress of Akwa United cannot be mentioned without giving credit to their Chairman, Elder Paul Bassey, a veteran broadcaster and administrator. He brought a new dimension to football administration and it can be seen in the success of the Promise Keepers
With four games to the end of the season, Akwa United hope to win their first NPFL title. This, they can achieve if they keep the dream alive and not slow down the pace.
Surely, they are a team on a mission to make history but they need not just to keep the promise, they also need to keep the hope