By Muhammad Ajah
The commentary of the all important match between the APC and the PDP in the 2019 Presidential tournament continues
Nonetheless, the umbrella team has maintained its attire and logo. It has remained a formidable team laden with professionals of international experiences. The team recently bought more professional players. The number 9 jersey, A. Abubakar, is a striker with world class experience. He recently joined the team after some maneuver and meander by the team managers. He had struggled hard in the past for that strategic position but failed and that made him move from one club to another in search of his destiny until he returned to his original club where he was the powerful assistant captain between 1999 and 2007. Within that period, he had gathered more influence and affluence that made every person in the team fear and respect him.
Recent events in Port Harcourt revealed how powerful he has been. He can never be undermined. He was able to buy his way over other contestants in his team for the No. 9 jersey, a position that was keenly contested for by a lineup of very tough and talented players such as S. Lamido, B. Saraki, A. Bafarawa, D. Mark, T. Turaki, A. Makarfi, A. Tambuwal, R. Kwankwaso, I. Dankwambo, J. Jang and D. Ahmed. All bargains behind the scene were shut for him. Even the umpire host, N. Wike, could not influence the results of the preliminary match for his choice. Scores gathered by some of the players told them to their faces that they were not mature for the senior team.
Very articulate, agile and resourceful, A. Abubakar played the Maradona in Garden City, not minding his “God’s hand” and outsmarted even the chief host of the preliminary qualifiers. He is loved by his team members for being a very courageous and calculative striker. Sometimes, skills overpower self inclinations. That has made him to be seen as selfish and self centered, thus his ever growing interest in scoring goals by himself and for himself. It is actually a relative expression. This match is expected to expose his last skills for this top position which he has dreamt for all his life. There could be no assurance that he will willingly decide to retire from professional football after this tournament. But time will tell.
In 1999, he won the No. 9 jersey in the junior club called PDP Adamawa FC. Due to his fascinating skills, he was purposely drafted into the senior team to assist the then captain, O. Obasanjo who was still uncertain of the football environment and techniques. A lot happened during his captainship. There were victories and losses. There were friendly times and quarrels. Abubakar was a master game strategist. Despite the quarrels he had with his captain, he was able to maneuver his ways and remained important. His stylish displays are side attractions to watch.
Ladies and gentlemen, the PDP FC had maintained its supremacy in this tournament which was initiated in 1999, winning in the same year, in 2003, in 2007 and in 2011. Unfortunately, as God will have it, its overbearing influence dwindled. There were outcries by its own spectators and fans over internal rancour within its management. The club, according to relevant analytical reviews on its past victories, could not have achieved such on the accounts of sincerity and accepted popularity. It was on the grounds of power and wealth or “what money can buy”. There was money everywhere in the place. Any powerful player was bought over on any determinant price. The club introduced what is now referred to as “do or die affairs” in the tournament. The referees were often allegedly bought over.
Even if it was not clear the level of inducement, the referees E. Akpata in 1998, E. Guobadia in 2003, M. Iwu in 2007, A. Jega in 2011 and 2015; all of them were subjects for discussion and some faced heavy criticisms after every match. However, the result of the 2015 match revealed of a referee who realized his powers and challenged all odds to deliver victory to the deserving team. That match nearly ended in fiasco. There were attempts by the then defending champions to ensure victory. When it was clear that the club was losing, different ploys were displayed to “kidnap” the referee on the pitch. The security agencies, especially the police rescued the situation. Kudos to the police!
The popularity of the then defending champions also suffered a heavy setback because of its interference into the affairs of other clubs and the national soccer federation. Under certain circumstances, the team suffered the defeat in the 2015 tournament, a defeat which it least expected. That defeat was nearly thwarted with efforts by some diehard fans and especially one of the key players G. Orubebe. The world watched the drama with consternation but the referee was resolute to ensure that the match ended and the winner awarded the trophy. And that is how it ended.
The loss by the team for the first time spelt hell for the players some of who deserted the club for the victorious. However, they gradually worked hard to recover their potentials. The team had even tried to change its name after tendering apology to its teeming fans. It had faced leadership tussle which had to be decided by the court. It is obvious that the team has realized it errors. It has prepared enough for this match. It has recovered some of its key players who contributed to its defeat. But the problem now is about the fans. Are they ready to cheer it up for victory?
I do not want to predict the outcome of this great match. But from a point of view, the same group of players who witnessed the loss in the last tournament has made up the keys in the team. This is a regrouping of the same old birds. Though they are experienced, it is yet to be ascertained the team work they will display especially with the Port Harcourt experiences. A point to reckon is that almost all the old players are worrisome about the status of the 2015 champions. The No. 9 jersey of the APC has put up a challenge with his dazzling performances. It is difficult to explain the really cause of the gang-up against him. It is either envy or jealousy. Let us watch!
The APC club had struggled in the past until 2015 when it won the national fiesta. It had experienced harrowing moments, changing name or merging with other teams. This will be the second time it will be meeting with the PDP FC under its present name. It has gathered experiences. Its preparatory stages for this final match were challenged by serious misunderstandings. At the Eagle Square, its key player and striker was unanimously endorsed by all the team members and fans. But there were outcries at the lower primaries. The team manager, A. Oshiomhole, was accused of some shoddy deals.
The APC plays the 442 pattern while the PDP plays the 433. Let us give you the players’ names and their positions on the pitch. The APC squad is made up of the first eleven: B. Tinubu is No. 1, C. Amaechi No. 4, O. Onu No. 2, G. Akpabio No. 7, N. El-Rufai No. 10, C. Ngige No. 3, M. Buhari No. 9, Y. Osinbajo No. 5, U. Ganduje No. 8, L. Mohammed No. 6 and A. Masari No. 11. In the APC reserves are R. Okorocha, B. Akande, A. Danbazau, A. Kyari, M. Boss, F. Adesina, M. Bello, G. Shehu, F. Keyamo, amongst other.
The PDP squad is made up of the first eleven: N. Wike No. 1, I. Okowa No. 2, Y. Dogara No. 4, D. Umahi No. 3, A. Tambuwal No.7, D. Malaye No.5, G. Daniel No. 6, A. Makarfi No. 11, A. Abubakar No. 9, P. Obi No. 10 and I. Dankwambo No.8. In the PDP reserves are: E. Udom, S. Lamido, S. Dickson, M. Kwankwaso, B. Ayade, D. Mark, S. Ortom, A. Fayose, T. Ikimi, A. Bafarawa, J. Jang, D. Ahmed, N. Sambo, H. Bello, P. Odili, P. Azige, S. Showunmi, amongst others. O. Olusegun with his former boy, G. Jonathan is seated but keenly watchful.
Ladies and gentlemen! Football lovers and spectators! The ball is at the center and it is for the PDP to pass. The referee sets his time and you can hear the sound of the whistle: “Preeee!” Obi passes the ball to Abubakar and the game begins. The commentary continues. It is my pleasure to tell you that at the end, we shall announce the goal medals scored by all the teams in the Olympics. Recall that Accord, AA, ABP, ACD, ACPN, AD, ADC, ADP, AGA, AGAP, ANRP, APA, APGA, APP, BNPP, C4C, DA, DPC, DPP, FJP, GDPN, GPN, HDP, KP, LP, MMN, MPN, NCP, NPC, NEPP, NNPP, PANDEL, PDC, PPA, PPC, PPN, PRP, PT, RP, SDP, SNP, SPN, UPN, UPP, YDP and YPP, amongst others, are the participating teams. So, please expect the short and last part of the commentary which will include the funs at the closing ceremonies. Also stay tuned and do not go away. It is between Buharism or Buharization and Atikulation. God bless Nigeria. And God bless Nigerians who love Nigeria. Ameen.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail email@example.com.