The Uyo Township Stadium along Aka Road, off Obiomo junction will on Friday play host to a top flight match in the Nigeria Professional Football League for the first time in 27 months.
Due to works ahead of next weekend’s World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Cameroon billed to hold at Akwa United’s home for the past two years, the Nest of Champions, the continental hopefuls will return to their old stamping ground to welcome Lobi Stars in the first of Match Day 36 action in the elite division this weekend.
Akwa United are 3rd on the league log, the final continental position with just three games left to play but in Lobi Stars, they have an opponent that boast of the most in-form lethal pair of attackers in the division in Anthony Okpotu and Kingsley Eduwo.
The Key Men
Hosts Akwa United are at full strength for this one and coach Abdu Maikaba must be grateful to be able to call on his CHAN Eagles quartet, Alhassan Ibrahim (pictured) , Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Afeez Aremu and Emmanuel Ariwachukwu. Added to the quartet is also United’s frontman Christian Pyagbara who returns to the squad after a failed trial in Scandinavia.
Lobi Stars striker Anthony Okpotu scored a hattrick last weekend, his third of the season as he moved within a goal of the league’s top scorer, Stephen Odey. Both Okpotu and his strike partner Kingsley Eduwo who was on song for the CHAN Eagles last weekend were then on target on Tuesday when Lobi Stars beat Katsina United in the AITEO Cup.
The scruffy grass at the Old Uyo Township Stadium will certainly suffer again this afternoon when these elephants come toe to toe.
Missing in action
Both teams will also be without two players, one each that have come in handy in the absence of their national team stars. The versatile Chigozie Chilekwu was sent off for United at Ifeanyiubah last weekend so he sits out Friday’s game.
For Lobi, John Lawrence who has been a constant feature in goal all through Okeimute Odah’s absence is also suspended for accumulated card offences.
Last time at Old Uyo Stadium
The last NPFL game at today’s venue was Akwa United’s Match Day 10 game against Shooting Stars on May 20, 2015. The hosts won the game 2-1 with defender Namso Edo scoring a late free kick.
As quickly as things change in Nigerian league football, United may still be able to call on three of the starters that day for Friday’s game. Captain Ottobong Effiong, centre back Godspower Igudia and winger Friday Ubong all started the game and are still prominent in the team under Abdu Maikaba with Emmanuel Ariwachukwu on the bench that day.
United’s last lineup at Old Uyo Stadium vs Shooting Stars
Kayode Olufemi; Ottobong Effiong, Joseph Nicholas, Godspower Igudia, Harrison Ibukun; Yusuf Adio, Aniekan Ekpe, Nsikak Etim, Friday Ubong: Ukeme Davies, Aniekpeno Udoh.