FA Cup: Akwa United Leave Rafael Everton in the Dark After Unfruitful NPFL Playoffs

– Search for Continental Spot in FA Cup

The 2017 Nigeria FA Cup Champions, Akwa United have one more chance to justify their expenditures in the just concluded abridged 2018/19 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season after failing to win more than a single game at the Super Six playoffs and also pick a slot for CAF competitions next season.

After finishing the regular season as Group B leaders, the Promise Keepers were among favourites tipped by bookmakers to lay hold of the 48th NPFL title, if anything less, pick a continental slot but not finishing fourth. 

It wasn’t any surprise that the Uyo-based outfit had finished the regular season at the top owing to the quality of players they had acquired at the start of their campaign. 

It was arguably one of their best seasons in the market as their long-sought target, Ndifreke Effiong finally agreed to put pen to paper for the club while the League’s record goalscorer, Mfon Udoh reunited with the outfit.

Former Nigerian international, Juwon Oshaniwa, two foreigners: Cameroon’s save hands, Jean Efala, and Brazilian,  Alberico da Silva topped the chart of players purchased. 

At the helm of affairs, the management had brought in a Brazilian tactician in Rafael Everton and another Brazilian trainer to bolster the coaching crew after Abdu Maikaba’s departure. 

Foreigners in Nigeria have a track record of been paid heavily and Akwa United proved their financial strength and waxed their monetary muscle with the hope of winning their first NPFL title. 

Despite beginning on a slow lane, the former Ibom Stars got their records straight in February and got their campaign on track. 

Everton’s men will go on to have one of the best offensive records in the 2019 abridged League with Mfon Udoh finishing top of the goal chart alongside Ibrahim Sunusi of Nassarawa United but their Super Six campaign will later suck. 

Having qualified for the playoffs, the side struggled and had to rally back on two occasions – against Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers – to get a draw. 

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the team’s inability to beat Lobi Stars and later falling to Enyimba like a pack of cards in a 3-0 defeat. 

Against Lobi, Everton was on the sidelines but for greater parts of the game, he looked on like one without control of the team. When the team lined up against Enyimba on the last day of the Super Six Playoffs, the former Abia Warriors gaffer was nowhere to be found alongside the Brazilian trainer and Alberico da Silva. 

Instead, it was Abasiakan Windy, an assistant coach who dictated to the team from the sidelines confirming speculations of an existing harrow between Everton and his employers.

Earlier in the year, Brila.net had reported a fracas between Everton and the Club’s Chairman.

Has Rafael Everton been Sacked?

It is now unclear what decision the management of Akwa United has taken over the Brazilian tactician though speculations making the ranks purport the 30-year-old has been sacked and is out of the team’s plans for their third FA Cup campaign as they depart Abuja for their Round of 32 face-off against Sokoto United. 

The club is yet to make an official statement explaining his absence from the sidelines against Enyimba.

He was equally missing during the team’s training session prior their Super Six last day encounter and when the club’s media officer, Mfon Patrick was questioned to that effect on a Radio programme monitored by BusyBuddies, he confirmed Everton’s absence and explained it wasn’t abnormal for a coach to be absent in training. 

He later went on to react to Everton’s purported sack as a rumour and stated he had no idea of such. 

Earlier today, BusyBuddies made contact with the club’s media officer who avoided making any comment on speculations that the Brazilian was no more at the helm of affairs at the club. 

Everton’s profiles on various social media platforms as Akwa United’s coach has not changed though, in his last post on Facebook he quoted Psalm 40 in the Holy Book, which describes the plight of one in trouble seeking supernatural and divine aid.