News Matches
CAF Confederation Cup

Confederation Cup Final: What can Orlando Pirates expect in Uyo?

4:28 am AEST 20/5/22
Orlando Pirates players, March 2022
With Amabhakabhaka facing RS Berkane in the Akwa Ibom state capital, Goal examines what the South Africans should expect

Orlando Pirates tackle RS Berkane in the final of the 2021-22 Caf Confederation Cup billed for the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Friday night.

The South Africans reached this stage after defeating Al Ahli Tripoli, while the Moroccans saw off TP Mazembe in the semi-finals.

Still hurt by their defeat to Etoile du Sahel in the final of the 2015 edition, Mandla Ncikazi’s men would be hoping to win the annual football championship for the first time ever.

Having finished as runners-up in the 2018-19 edition, the Oranges Boys’ won the Confederation Cup the following season by overcoming Egyptian Premier League side Pyramids. 

As Pirates head to Nigeria in their quest to end their wait against Florent Ibenge’s side, GOAL provides insight on what the nine-time South African kings should expect in South Nigeria.

The City

Uyo was named the capital of Akwa Ibom, Nigeria on September 23, 1987, when the state was created from Cross River State.

Situated between Oron to Ikot Ekpene, Uyo boasts a population of 427,873, according to the 2006 Nigerian Census, while the greater urban area, including Uruan, has a population of 554,906.

While English language remains the official means of communication, Ibibio is the primary indigenous language as the area is inhabited mainly by the Ibibio people.

Famous for producing pail oil, yams, cassava, and palm produce, Uyo has a brewery and a textile mill. 

The Stadium

The Godswill Akpabio International Stadium was rebuilt for an estimated fee of $96 million and was commissioned on November 7, 2014. 

The stadium was designed by Julius Berger, a structural engineering outfit responsible for its architectural design, execution planning, as well as maintenance.

Formerly known as the Akwa Ibom Stadium, governor Udom Emmanuel renamed the facility after the immediate past governor of the state Akpabio following his inauguration ceremony on May 29, 2015.

The 30,000 seats ultra-modern facility is modelled in outlook after Johannesburg’s Soccercity and Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena.

Akpabio Stadium is home to Nigeria’s Professional Football League side Akwa United with the edifice boasting of a bulletproof State Box which boasts 70 seats.

The Pitch 

The pitch measures approximately 103 metres (112.6 yds) long by 67 metres (73.2 yds) wide, with a couple of metres of run-off space on all sides. 

Judging by its standard, the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium is one of the best playing turfs in Africa because of its natural grass surface. 

Little wonder, the Nigeria senior national team play most of their international matches there because the quality is like that of most European football.

During raining season, the quality remains the same because the turf has undersoil-heating, drainage, and irrigation systems. 

The quality of the stadium training pitch is word-class and it has occasionally hosted Nigeria National League matches alongside several grassroots football competitions.

The fans

Fans at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium are very friendly and accommodating.

On a normal day, they sing and cheer their teams to victory with melodious songs accompanied by drums, and trumpets. For the die-hard fans, they engage in painting their bodies – a sign of loyalty and support for the teams they are supporting.

They could go from friendly to being unreceptive to remonstrate poor calls from football referees. 

Famous matches

Although the potential cracker between Orlando Pirates and RS Berkane is the first intercontinental major cup final to be hosted in Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, nonetheless, the venue has played host to several iconic matches.

Some of them include Nigeria’s 4-0 mauling of Cameroon, and the 3-1 defeat of Algeria en route to qualifying for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia. 

The venue also played host to the Atletico Madrid versus Super Eagles friendly as Diego Simeone’s men secured a hard-earned 3-2 victory over a Nigerian team dominated by local professionals.

The three-time African champions would want to forget in a hurry that they bowed 2-0 to South Africa during the qualifiers for 2019 Afcon in Uyo.

There, goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau helped Bafana Bafana secure their first competitive win over Nigeria.