Executive governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, has doled out $5,000 to Enyimba on their historic return to their ancestral home ground after three seasons away in Calabar.
Ikpeazu cut short state functions to watch the team in their first training session at the magnificent edifice on Thursday.
“The expectations of not only Abia people but all Nigerians is on your young shoulders,” the Governor remarked, apparently in reference to the club being the only Nigerian club still playing on the continent this term.
“After the Super Eagles’ early exit from the World Cup in Russia, if there is any hope for Nigeria to make impact in African soccer in 2018, it is on your young shoulders.
“Those that spend time to pray and wish you well cut across all strata of society, from far and near.
“So, you are not only representing your club, Enyimba, but you are also representing Nigeria and the expectation is quite high.”
Governor Okezie handed the team $5000 as a “welcome back” bonus.
The training was preceded by a prayer session as the club rededicated the stadium to God. The brief service was anchored by Reverend Father Paulinus Nwachukwu.
Under the watchful eyes of coach Usman Abdalla, the players performed several ball drills with admirable comfort and hailed the lush green surface as world-class.
Club captain Mfon Udoh reacted by thanking the Governor for what he described as “the best pitch in the country” and promised that the team will reciprocate the government’s support by bringing more trophies back to Aba.
Enyimba are likely to play their first competitive game on the new turf when they host CARA Brazzaville on August 28 in a crunch CAF Confederation Cup tie.
By Sab Osuji