When this game against Tanzania was moved away from Port Harcourt I thought it as one of the positives to have a road trip with the Eagles once more.
The moment Toyin Ibitoye, who happens to be the Super Eagles media officer called me, I realized the time was nigh.
He told me he was already at the airport in Lagos and would be in Port Harcourt in a bit for the game between Enyimba and Akwa United.
How Ibitiye made me popular in church
While having late breakfast somewhere on Sani Abacha road in GRA with Ibitoye, I pointed out my church, House on the Rock.
When he said he wanted to attend I dropped my family off early enough so I could pick him up from his hotel so we could attend the 1st service the next day.
Now the fellow at the control room must have been a big fan of Ibitoye because the moment his face showed up at the big screen, it was showing up every five minutes until the end of service. It was either the man manning the camera or the man manning the switch in the control room.
I thanked Toyin Ibitoye for making me very popular in church on the day and I urged him to come again and sit next to me.
Like I said, I had been in that church for three years but had never had my face almost permanent on the big screen. #IbitoyePleaseComeAgain
Uyo for the game
My trip to Uyo for the game on Tuesday was the worst since I started visiting Uyo… okay the 2nd worst, except that the worst was not really Uyo as my final port of call, but Calabar so this still stands as the worst Uyo visit.
First, I try not to drive interstate because the roads are not kind to our cars.
If I was a state governor, minister or some other top guy in government, I would drive even to South Africa and then use state funds to buy me another car on return but me I dey manage this my tukeh tukeh small small.
My trip to Owerri two weeks ago did things to me and my car so I’d rather pay to use someone else’s car.
The Sienna at Water lines would not fill up on time and we eventually left at 1.30 pm.
Then we encountered traffic at the poor Eleme axis of the East/ West road but the worst of it all was on our way to Abak were the driver refused to take advise from us and took a turn that led us to a road that was unpassable.
He had to make a u-turn after a while in that melee then pass another which was still under construction, the rains and all, around the Ikot Abia area before we located Uyo.
In the hotel at 4pm I called Toyin Ibitoye to register my presence and he told me the Eagles would train at 5pm so I grabbed a quick lunch, a shower and headed to the Godswill Akpabio Stadium to watch the 1st ever session under Gernot Rohr.
Our illiterate stadium security
I know how overzealous our stadium security are, especially when the Super Eagles are in town, any town so I thought it wise to get there in good time before the national team arrive and the army start brutalizing people. Yes it is a regular occurrence.
As I approached the main gate I saw the security turn back a few people.
I also saw a police truck parked outside the gate and I could sight one in the distance right inside the stadium.
So the stage was set. Is that why stadium security was turning down people?
I got to the entrance and a fellow walked up to me and to say no one was allowed in.
I handed him my press identity card and the way he looked at it, I knew he had no idea.
He starred at it for twenty seconds, then turned it around and starred at the back for another ten seconds and boldly told me, ‘chesting out’ that, “We do not allow people inside here.”
At this point I was still calm at least and I told him, “I am not people. Look at that card again and open the gate for me,”
He looked at the card for two seconds and told me plainly that I am not allowed in.
Then I had lost my patience and I bellowed, “The Super Eagles train here today and I am here to watch. That card gives me the right to go in.”
The security man looked at me like I was rat’s arse crazy and went, “But the Super Eagles are not in Uyo and they are not training here.”
At this point I lost my cool and told him they are on their way to the stadium to train.
His superior, a lady walked up to find out the cause of the ruckus and after I spoke with her she quickly opened up and told me they didn’t know the Eagles would be training.
Waiting for the Eagles
It was just light workout, jogging around the pitch, exercises and a little ball work.
Before they started this I was taking pictures of different players as they got dressed- Victor Moses, Troost Ekong, Kelechi Iheanacho but the duo of Nosa Igiebor and Brown Ideye gave me problems.
While lacing their boots I went to take pictures and they kept on lacing their boots, not even looking up at me.
After a long wait I went, “Even people wey dey tie lace dey look up na,”
Igiebor ignored me but it was Brown Ideye who said, “Bros, if we look up, how we go take see wetin we dey tie for the boot?”
This guy is a trouble maker, so I went, “But if you tie small, you go look up small,”
Then Nosa Igiebor went, “Bros, how we take know say na correct picture sef? If we look up finish and e no clear.”
Brown then went, “No, if na this bros, the picture dey clear. I trust am for that one”
At that time they now posed for the photo, but that was just us having fun.
But Igiebor would not rest, “Bros, make I still check whether the picture clear,”
So I showed it to him.
“Na correct picture o. Abeg help me hold my phone, I go collect am after training, and then I go give you my number make you send the picture to me through whatsapp.”
Mikel Obi left the session five minute out to get a physio session and the same happened with Kelechi Iheanacho as the masseur worked on him almost all through the session.
The highlight of it all was when Rohr, who actually jogged along with the team split them into two groups and told them to work the ball from one end of the field to the other without the ball touching the ground.
“If the ball touches the ground, everyone in your group goes down and gives me five press ups.”
Well, it was just for the fun since this was their first session together.
Not long later, everyone was getting on the bus and going home.
Igiebor retrieved his phone from me, we exchanged numbers and I sent the photos via his whatsapp later one.
It was time to shut down but Promise Etim, the League Management Company Match Delegate in Uyo thought he should repay me what I did to him in Port Harcourt when he came visiting two weeks back.
We were with the Uyo based photographer. I’ve known that chap for thirteen years but never known his real name as we all called him “Otisoron”
Promise ordered the drinks but after a while I had to leave for my room to get some work done.
Did I forget to mention that Sammy Wejinya is in Uyo and in the same hotel as I am?
|Punishment for letting the ball touch the ground|
|Iheanachor having a session with the Massuer|
|Gernot Rohr having a word with his captain, Mikel Obi|
|Time to take a jog around the pitch|
|Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanachor|
|Igiebor and Ideye after they both agreed to look up|
|Ahmed Musa and Ekong just before training|
|Victor Moses laces up|