Akwa United chief executive Paul Bassey says his team’s desire to have a good start in next season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) drove them to the acquisition of some of the best players in the division.
Bassey spoke during the unveiling ceremony at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium (also known as the Nest of Champions) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state Nigeria on Friday morning. A total of twelve new players were unveiled including NPFL record topscorer Mfon Udoh, while the club’s anthem was also launched.
“We are starting this league at home, against El-Kanemi. It is our belief that we should start well. It’s an abridge league, it’s going to be a difficult league but if we start well, we will maintain the momentum we had last season,” said Bassey.
“In order to start well, we have gone ahead to add what we consider to be some very good players that will help us to realise our dreams.”
The Promise Keepers (as Akwa United are known) have brought in Super Eagles defender Juwon Oshaniwa who last played for Hearts of Midlothian in Scotland. Two former Rivers United players – Emeka Atuloma and Markson Ojobo – have also made the switch from their neighbours.
Top on the list however are Udoh who last featured for the team in 2013 before joining Enyimba as well as Olympian Ndifreke Effiong. Club chairman Bassey was particularly delighted by their signings.
“Some years ago, when we came to Akwa United, we had a lot of Akwa Ibomites in the team, too many of them and we decided one way or the other to drop a lot of them. We received a lot of criticisms but we stood our ground because we believe that those players were not good enough for Akwa United.
“Today, you see the return of a lot of Akwa Ibom indigenes, not because they are from Akwa-Ibom but because they are some of the best players that this country can offer. Very good players individually but what we have done in the past few weeks with our new coach (Rafael Everton) is trying to make them a potent team,” he told www.aclsports.com
United also signed a couple of players from neighbouring countries. Former FC Ifeanyiubah defender Blaise Adou teams up with his former coach while Cameroonian goalkeeper Jean Efala joined on a one-year contract. The spotlight though was on Brazilian midfielder Alberico da Silva who won the Fedeation Cup with Ifeanyiubah in 2016.
The 2018/19 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season is expected to kick off on Saturday, January 12, 2018
List of unveiled players:
– Samuel Ime Akpan – Left back
– Wisdom Fernando – Winger
– Blaise Adou – Centre back
– Ocheme Edoh – Striker
– Wilson Elu – Full back
– Jean Efala – Goalkeeper
– Emeka Atuloma – Midfielder
– Juwon Oshaniwa – Defender
– Ndifreke Effiong – Forward
– Markson Ojobo – Defender
– Alberico da Silva – Midfielder
– Mfon Udoh – Striker