With the CAF Confederations Cup returning this weekend, Chairman of Akwa United, Paul Bassey, is confident the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) team will kick-start their campaign on a positive note.
The Akwa Ibom state side begin their 2018 continental journey on Sunday with a home game against Hawks of Gambia in the preliminary round. It is Akwa United’s second ever participation in the CAF Confederation Cup after being knocked out at the same stage of the competition in 2016. Bassey, who took charge of the club months before it was sent packing two years ago by Vita Club Mokanda of Congo Brazzaville, says the loss is an experience he has learnt from.
“Little things derailed our dream,” Paul Bassey said in an exclusive interview withbusybuddiesng.com. “Early flight bookings, you have no knowledge of the playing surface of the opposition, the weather, the food. So, by benefit of experience we want to take charge of all those things.”
The ‘Promise Keepers’ go into the challenge of the continent’s second tier club competition in fine form, as they top the NPFL table after the first seven games of the season. Bassey, who is hoping to avoid a repeat of Akwa United’s early exit in 2016, says he is “happy with where we are now, going into the continental competition.”
“I’m happy with the quality of players we have in our possession,” the former CAF Technical Committee member, said. “All we need to do is to take our chances, and we know the African continent whatever happens away.”
Akwa United are one of two Nigerian sides in this year’s Confederation Cup. The other team, Enyimba FC of Aba, have been given a bye from this stage of the competition.
No Nigerian side has ever won the Confederation Cup. The defunct Dolphins FC of Port Harcourt reached the final in 2005, but was defeated 3–1 on aggregate by Moroccan side FAR Rabat.