Austin Jay Jay Okocha
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Former Nigerian playmaker, Austin Jay Jay Okocha was in his element at the weekend, scoring a hat-trick in ex Super Eagles 7-3 drubbing of Nollywood and entertainment stars’ novelty match to mark the World AIDS Day in the country.
With such ex internationals like Nwankwo Kanu, Daniel Amokachi, Jonathan Akpoborie, Celestine and Emmanuel Babayaro, Emeka Ezeugo, Taiwo Enegwa, Mobi Oparaku, Benedict Akwuegbu, Teslim Fatusi, Ogbonna Kanu and of course, Okocha, there was no dull moment all through the one hour duration of the match chaired by former Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon (rtd).
Akpoborie got the curtain raiser early in the game when he did a solo drive off a long pass from the goalkeeper.
Enegwa made it two with a long range volley while Fatusi increased the tally to three nil to keep the Campos Square arena buzzing with memories of the stars.
It is not that the entertainers led by the likes of Fred Amata, MI, Nonso Diobi, Sound Sultan, Segun Arinze, ID Cabasa, Dr Sid and the hilarious Saka of the Etisalat fame (real name Afeez Oyetoro), did not try to reduce the tally, they were simply overwhelmed.
On resumption for the second half, Okocha who was apparently enjoying himself, rekindled those leg-over and flicks that endeared him to Nigerian football fans. A one-on-one with Kanu, and a dash through the Nollywood defence got the ex internationals the fourth goal and the first of Okocha’s goals.
Diobi pulled back one for the Nollywood team before Okocha danced around with the ball, literarily dribbling the entire Nollywood defence to slot in the fifth for the former Eagles. Amata got Nollywood’s second goal.
Okocha left the entire arena reeling with laughter when he turned, twisted and leg over Arinze several times before completing his hat-trick of goals.
The highpoint of the match was when Saka grabbed the ball and dashed towards Eagles post to attempt throwing the ball into the net like is done in a handball contest but was stopped before reaching the 22m box.
Speaking shortly after the match, Saka told THISDAY that he was very excited playing the former Super Eagles stars.
“Sincerely, I feel very happy playing the former Super Eagles players, most of whom I have never had the opportunity of meeting in person. It is an honour for me,” observed Saka who exchanged jersey with Kanu.
He said that to so recognised to be a part of the awareness campaign for AIDS was something that gladdens his heart.
Also speaking on the AIDS Day, Amokachi insisted that identifying with those living with HIV is to tell them that it is not over yet, that they are part of the larger society.
“We want them to know that the stigma of carrying the virus no longer exists. We love them and want them to live normal life again. I am happy seeing happiness on the faces of those present,” stressed the former Everton of England forward.
One of the persons living with HIV, Mrs Georgina Ahamefula thanked Friends of Africa, initiators of the World AIDS Day celebration and the novelty match.
“As you can see we are normal people. We just want the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS to stop. You cannot contact HIV by merely shaking somebody of seating or talking with such persons. You can only get it if you indulge in unprotected sex with someone that has the virus. We are happy seen all these footballers we used to see on television here at the Campos Square,” said the middle aged lady.