18th March, 2013
Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, practically led African champions, the Super Eagles of Nigeria into Calabar, the state capital on Monday, as he was in the same Arik Air flight that took the team to the Canaan City on Monday morning.
As the 10 players and officials boarded the aircraft few minutes to 11am, they were oblivious of the fact that Governor Imoke will be on board until when he suddenly entered and exchanged pleasantries with Head Coach Stephen Keshi and his assistant, Dan ‘The Bull’ Amokachi, before the aircraft crew announced to all that the governor was flying with the Super Eagles.
According to the Media Officer of the Eagles, Ben Alaiya, the 50 minutes flight from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja to the Magaret Ekpo International Airport in Calabar, was smooth and at exactly 12noon, the plane touched down, the team were received by Patrick Ugbe, the state’s Sports Commissioner and Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme, who is the Director, Technical at the Nigeria Football Federation. As usual the team witnessed the now familiar singing and drumming by the Nigerian Football and Other Sports Supporters Club, Cross River chapter.
After airport formalities the team went straight to the Transcorp Metropolitan Hotel in the heart of the city where they would be quartered for Saturday’s encounter against the Harambee Stars of Kenya.
Sports Commissioner, Hon Patrick Ugbe, also revealed on Monday that instead of Thursday, Governor Liyel Imoke will now receive the AFCON trophy on Wednesday during the state’s Executive Council Meeting. The shift, he revealed, is as a result of the tight schedule of the governor this week, assuring however that Senator Imoke will be back in town on time for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier.
“The governor will receive the Nations Cup trophy on Wednesday during the state’s Executive Council meeting and make pronouncement during the occasion. The players and officials promised him the trophy during their last qualifier and they have delivered, it’s the turn of the governor to also tell them thank you ”, Ugbe said on Monday.
Head Coach Stephen Keshi said he was delighted to be back in Calabar, and he was doubly happy because the Governor practically led the team to the city. “We hope we can give him victory also in the double digits”, he said jokingly.