My Super Eagles Uyo Diary Day 1- All that glitters has to be gold

I didn’t meet gold on my way to Uyo or see any shiny object turned out to be gold but I had to title today’s diary and I picked this so as to get your attention.

Now that I have your attention, the Super Eagles are back in Uyo again, this time for a crucial AFCON Qualifier against South Africa, our eternal wives.

Sadly, they ensured we did not make it to the AFCON in 2015 without even beating us and Nigerians basically want revenge.

I don’t want revenge. I just want to see the South Africans soundly beaten.

Ufuoma Egbamuno of Nigeria Info FM would be driving down so myself, Emeka Dennar of Today FM and Benson Clement joined him and we agreed to leave as early as 7am on Thursday because we wanted to get there in good time for the press conference that would start at 11am.

Ofcourse, Mrs. Egbamuno, also known by her twitter as Creamysugar joined too.

Navigating through the Eleme axis of the East/West road was horrible and we felt sorry for Ufuoma’s car and charged him to buy an SUV after his next successful racket.

Pork and palmy calling our names

We tried it on the last trip and planned it this time so as soon as we crossed into Akwa Ibom State we stopped to buy Pork and palm wine.

We got enough pork and palm wine to take care of a whole community and then we moved on.

Emeka and Benson could not help themselves so they started to devour it right there in the car.

Well, it wasn’t just them. We all could not help ourselves and we devoured some of it in the car, including Ufuoma who was driving and Creamy Sugar who was feeding him while ensuring he stayed focused.

The Rivers SWAN hotel

I had sequestered a full hotel here in Uyo and the idea was that those of us coming from Port Harcourt, eighteen of us would stay in the same place.

I spoke with the manager two weeks earlier, made reservations and here we were.

Even though some folks from Lagos like Tobi Adepoju, Miyen and Jide Orevba, one from Minna, Andrew Randa and Jane Nweze from Enugu had called to say they wanted a decent place to stay and would be with us, it was strictly a Port Harcourt affair.

It was easy to secure our rooms, take a small rest and head down to the Hotel where the Eagles were lodged, Le Meridien for the task ahead.

Mrs. Egbamuno and Kelechi Iheanacho
While waiting for the conference to start and as we were at the lobby of the hotel still exchanging pleasantries, we say the players step out of their rooms, I think heading out for a team talk so I approached them to search out John Ogu.

Behind me I saw Mrs. Egbamuno trying to take a picture of Kelechi Iheanacho as he walked sown the stairs and I thought to myself that she did not come all the way to Uyo for this.

I asked her, “Do you want a selfie” and she nodded.

So I called Iheanacho and told him the lady wanted a selfie and naturally he obliged.

She got her selfie and also got one with Ogenyi Onazi after the press conference and again another one with John Ogu. We are in the selfie generation, right?

Toyin Ibitoye soon ushered us into the venue of the press conference. This was after some felicitations amongst friends.

Toyin started by “begging” me not to ask any question that would cause trouble.

Of course he was just joking. We have been friends for more than ten years but that was the spirit when we met each other after a long period.

One thing about these Super Eagles matches is that we get to meet each other after a long time of just emailing, texting, whatsapping and speaking on the phone. Some who have never met before finally do that.

So far I met Dr. Tee, administrator of a whatsapp group for the first time. I met some other folks for the first time who had engaged me on social media and it was nice finally putting real faces to tweets.

I also met again, after a while, the likes of Colin Udoh, Chisom Mbonu, Toyin Ibitoye, Mighty George Essien and a man I had not seen in about 16 years, ANIEFIOK UDONQUAK.

Udonquak worked with me (as a senior colleague though) at South South Express Newspapers in Port Harcourt in 2001. I left that organisation sometime in February 2002 and have not seen him since then.
With Dr. Tunde Akinbinu

He just walked up from behind me, called my name and when I looked at him trying to recognise him he just mentioned his name and smiled.

Then he said he had been following my tweets on social media. Hmmm.

For some reason, Gernot Rohr came down with five players. My thoughts are that Onazi was because he was the captain of the team, Alhassan Ibrahim because he plays for Akwa United, the home club and Ahmed Musa because of the Ramaddan fasting story. These were my thoughts.

Rohr however, said, Williams Troost Ekong was there at the press conference because he likes to talk (lol).

He also came along with Elderson Echiejile.

You can listen to the full press conference audio here

New measures at the camp

Apparently, the management of the team is taking this game more seriously than the fans.

While Nigerians are not too bothered and think we will just roll over the South Africans, because they are our wives” as we say in local parlance, the management is more serious.

First, they have officers of the Department of State Services guarding the team to ensure no one gets into their rooms, not even friendly football writers like me.

I think a meeting was held where it was agreed that the players need to keep their concentration and could only meet with visitors out in the lobby of the hotel and not in their rooms.

Impressive, but like a told a player with the Eagles, it is us that put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.

We did not do this against Algeria, the top ranked team in Africa last November. Doing it against South gives the match some added importance that I think is not even there.

Not that the South Africans will be easy pickings, but we should just take it as a normal game, not a Cup final.

However, do not get me wrong. The players stay two to a room. One might have a vistor while the other wants to rest. I think it is a good initiative going forward.

I had done my bit for the day… tomorrow is another one.

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  1. Many thanks for the diary of the Super Eagles match in Uyo. It was a delight to meet you after many years since we parted ways. I must say you have done excellently well in your chosen area. Of course, I had no doubt about your skills in sports journalism which you displayed while working with South South Express, more grease to your elbows.