Akwa United: The Nest That Made The NPFL Champions

Akwa United: The Nest That Made The NPFL Champions

 1,368 total views,  3 views today

By Bassey Ibiatisuho

On August 1st, 2021, a sporting history was made in Akwa Ibom State before the watchful eyes of over thirty thousand football fans at the prestigious Godswill Akpabio International Stadium aka ‘The Nest of Champions’ when Akwa United FC of Uyo won the Nigeria Professional Football League title in style, the first time in it’s 24years history after beating MFM FC 5-2 in a thrilling encounter.

In the history book of the state that will be something to remember.

In 2011/2012 season Akwa United having been relegated for two seasons to the lower division made a return to the elite division of Nigerian football. Fast forward 10 years and the club is the Champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League with two Federation’s Cup (Aiteo Cup) in it’s title cabinet having won those in 2015 and 2017 seasons.

The records are a testament that a club formed 24 years ago, relegated 12 years ago and back to the top division 10 years ago has today become part of Nigeria’s elite clubs with three major trophies in six years.

Success is a long-term journey. There is no quick fix. You will make mistakes. You will face challenges. But for you to succeed, you must be disciplined, resilient and make sacrifices. This sums up the long walk to victory by Akwa United who after hurdles have kept the promise by winning the NPFL title.

Others have won the NPFL title, but none have won it like Akwa United from a slow start to a record-breaking finish that includes; 18-matches unbeaten, which is now the new league record, losing just 5 games out of 38, for the third time in the history of the club producing the highest goal scorer with 19 goals from Charles Atshimene and becoming the first club in Nigeria to have three Golden Boot winners in Akarandut Orok, Mfon Udoh (2) and Charles Atshimene playing in the same team at the same time. Akwa United last home game against MFM also had in attendance over 30,000 spectators and arguably stands as a match record attendance in the NPFL. Indeed, the title was won without blemish.

In his first full season in-charge, Coach Kennedy Boboye has fulfilled the promise he made during his unveiling in December 2019, “I am pleased to be joining Akwa United, a team with great talents and ambition to succeed. Hopefully, I will use my wealth of experience to help the team achieve its set goals and ambitions.”

He started his NPFL coaching career in the West with Sunshine Stars, then moved to the East with Abia Warriors, went up North to Plateau United where he won a league title, a brief stop in the West again with Remo Stars before coming down South to Akwa United where he has also won another NPFL title.

In a twinkle of an eye, Akwa United has moved from a team that battled relegation seasonally to a team that guns for a top finish seasonally. It has become the brightest spot of the NPFL where foreign clubs monitor weekly to get the best legs. A new character, spirit and ambition has been instilled into the team that only the best is good enough. There is a competition for a starting berth which brings out the best in the players. So you either give the best or watch the best from the bench.

While the players, coaches and backroom staff deserve commendation for working as a unit in the attainment of this feat, the man whose effort as one of the founding fathers who planned and saw the formation of the club in 1996 and who through divine providence is currently heading the management team of Akwa United, Elder Paul Bassey deserves much respect. He had a dream and has lived to make the dream come true.

Like he used to say, “Journalism prepares you for everything in life.” Here is a five-star Journalist who has become a five-star Sports Administrator both at home and in the diaspora. Having a round peg in a round hole produces great results, take it or leave it, “Paul ‘Humble’ Bassey” according to the State Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Sir Monday Ebong Uko is that shoulder Akwa United needed to fly to the top and he did that with great panache.

The role of the state government cannot be overemphasized, timely release of funds for payment of salaries, match bonuses and allowances have greatly motivated the players to break their bodies for the success of the team. Governor Udom Emmanuel remains the most successful sports governor in the history of the state, having two Federation’s Cup and an NPFL title won during his administration.

The Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Sir Monday Ebong Uko is a tireless man, so when you wonder why the governor keeps trusting him with the role it’s because he delivers, interprets the vision of the governor and surpasses expectation. His middleman role, cordial relationship and desire to succeed has been instrumental not just to Akwa United but all other success stories in sports development in the state. According to Elder Paul Bassey “he is a perfectionist and wants things to be done right.”

Akwa United returns to the continent of Africa, not to compete in the CAF Confederation Cup which it has done twice, but to compete in the CAF Champions League with the very best in Africa as the Nigerian Champions. This tag comes with great responsibility. Early preparation and planning, improved budgetary allocation, focus and commitment will work the magic. There is no luck in football, it’s garbage in, garbage out and the time to start planning is now.

Congratulations Akwa United, Champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League. The Champions have finally been made from the Nest. From next season, the NPFL Champions play the CAF Champions League at the Nest of Champions. The stadium now fits with all intent and qualification your new status in Nigerian football.

About Best Choice Sports

Leave a Reply

Translate »