CHAN camp taking its toll on Akwa United, says Bassey
Akwa United Chairman, Paul Bassey has revealed that the club may not continue the league if four of their players in the national camp preparing for the CHAN qualifier against Benin Republic were not released for the games.
There are only six matches left in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with Akwa United third on the log behind Plateau United and MFM FC of Lagos and Bassey believes his club would win the title if they had the full compliment of players to prosecute the games.
Speaking in Maiduguri after Akwa United’s clash with El Kanemi at the weekend, Bassey said: “Due to our match with Rivers United in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, I sought for permission from the LMC for a shift, which was denied due to fixture congestion. I accepted the decision in good faith. But you can imagine playing on Wednesday and heading immediately to Maiduguri for a Sunday encounter. It took its toll yesterday.
“We have been very unlucky going into the last lap of the league as the team has been plagued by injuries and absence of key players. It is not only about Ojo, who did not stand between the posts yesterday due to injury. Of the four goalkeepers in our squad only one is available. We are working round the clock to get Ojo fit for the weekend. Emmanson and Iwu are down. Only Shagari is ok.
“Of the four regular defenders, Godspower Igudia is burying his father this weekend, Kodjo Dadzie has been on admission for stomach ulcer for two weeks running, leaving only Ariwa and Skipper Ottobong Effiong.
“Move to the attack. Christian Pyagbara and Moses Ebiye have left the country for the proverbial trials… Gideon and Amaechi may not be fit before the season ends, while Adio’s knee injury has been stubborn four months running.
“You can see why we cannot do without the four players invited to the CHAN Eagles camp. Before now, we had told the NFF and the LMC that for you to invite four players from Akwa United, while others are limited to a maximum of two (Except Rangers) and refuse to release them was to indirectly give our adversaries undue advantage especially at a time like this.”
Bassey revealed that he had assured CHAN Eagles’ Coach, Salisu Yusuf that he would ensure the players returned to camp whenever they were released to play for Akwa United, adding, “After our match in Port Harcourt, I put them on a plane from Port Harcourt to Abuja and in Abuja they took another flight to Kano to guarantee prompt and stress free arrival. I thank Salisu for his understanding.
With their sight firmly set on a continental ticket, Bassey said depriving Akwa United the use of their “players at such a crucial time as now will mean working against the aspirations of not only the club but the good people of Akwa Ibom State, led by Governor Udom Emmanuel, who has been very supportive in the quest for an historic league diadem in the life of the club
“I may not be a coach but I believe competitive matches at weekends will leave the coach with match fit players to the country’s advantage. Salisu does not need to lock them up for weeks. He knows them very well. I will be surprised if he does not already know his starting 11 against Benin by now. He is that intelligent
“We have teams, who are faring better than us in the league yet only two of their players were called to camp. Others have just one. You can imagine our predicament where three of our midfielders and the only reliable central defender are not available. Yes three midfielders. I hope we have done nothing wrong.” Akwa United will travel to Ijebu Ode this weekend to meet Sunshine Stars of Akure.