BY GODWIN AIKIGBE
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner For Youth and Sports Monday Ebong Uko, says fans would pay as little as N200 to watch Sunday’s 2017-2018 NPFL season’s opener between Akwa United and Rangers at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.
Speaking to the media in Uyo on Friday, Uko said His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel had approved the drastic slashing of the gate takings to enable massive turnout by fans to cheer Akwa United to victory.
He said: ” We know it is match of the week, we know it involves two of the biggest teams in the Nigeria professional league today, yet we are inviting Akwa Ibomites and lovers of football in the neighbourhood to turn out en mass to watch the match for next to nothing. I am appealing to all of us to take advantage of this magnanimity to come out en mass to cheer our darling club to victory.”
While the Reserved Area (VIP) will go for 500 naira only, the popular side will be open to the public for just 200 naira only.
Meanwhile, the Aiteo Cup champions are looking to maintaining their invincibility at home this season. Club Chairman Elder Paul Bassey said he believed God for a better outing this season.
He said: “Last year we lost six points at home following draws against Rivers United, Rangers International and F.C ifeanyi Ubah. This year, we plan not to lose any point at home by His grace”.
The home team will go into the match with the hope of beating the Flying Antelopes, who have not lost at the Nest of Champions in their last two visits.
In 2016, Enugu Rangers defeated Akwa United 3-2 on their way to lifting the league title and forced the home side to a goalless draw last season. But, Maikaba’s team is determined to go for all three points on Sunday to get their season off to a flying start.
With the arrival of top quality players like: former Rangers Vice Captain Etim Matthew, Denis Nya from Lobi Stars, Victor Mbaoma, Ajibola Otegbeye, Gabriel Wassa, Kelly Kester, and youngsters such as Aminu Nuhu, Aniekeme Asuquo, Adeshina Gata, Yenne Tenton, Katoh Haggai coupled with the bulk of star players that won the Aiteo Cup and also finished 4th in the league, the Promise keepers look set to hit the ground running in their first home match of the season.
The CAF Confederation Cup contenders were unbeaten at the Nest of Champions last season after recording 16 victories and three draws in 19 home matches. Coach Maikaba’s team will hope on the massive support of their fans for the season opener.
Speaking with the media department of the club, Maikaba expressed optimism that his team was ready for the new season.
He said: “We have had a wonderful pre-seasons programme and we have also added top class players to our team. We have achieved the blend and understanding we needed, so we are fully prepared and ready to go into the new season.
“Last season, we picked only one point from a possible six against Rangers, but this is a new season, and on Sunday we will do our best to win the game. A win in our first match of the season will encourage and motivate us to achieve our target this season”.