The story of an underdog is usually pleasing to the people. They love it. It is a journey that encapsulates challenges and seemingly insuperable odds, only to be conquered by a little show of faith in the face of the torment. This is the case of Dakkada FC.
An underdog draws strength from within to process and achieve the unthinkable. There’s unreal sufficiency to generate optimism about the future and dream big. The status quo is not seen as a barrier. The underdog keeps forging on, just as a deer pants for flowing streams. Again, this is the case of Dakkada FC.
They reached the Nigerian National League play-offs in 2019 after a late turnaround in results and were not seen as favourites to progress when they were pitched to face five-time Nigerian champions Shooting Stars in Asaba. Founded as Akwa Starlets, a feeder team to Akwa United in 2004, the side have come off to become one of the finest sides to play in the Nigeria Professional Football League in the past season.
Not only did they beat the Oluyole Warriors to gain promotion, but they also won the division two title. What a story! In the playoff game vs Shooting Stars, former Crown FC player Femi Ajayi led the line for the Akwa Ibom side. Two goals from him and a wonderful finish from Isaac George sealed the ticket for Caleb Esu’s men. They did a David on their Goliath – 3SC.
Few weeks into their maiden campaign in the topflight, Akwa Starlets became Dakkada. Same wine, new bottle. Nothing changed. The motivation to conquer all and sundry didn’t diminish. Fearless from the start and no signs of being put out early on.
Impressive first season in the #NPFL
Not motivated financially. The coach even said it after a hard earned win against Heartland in Uyo (first win after 8 straight loses) that the team needs financial motivation.
Half of the team gone already; Akwa Starlet turned Dakkada, ????????
— Chris Emenyonu (@Krizbaba22) August 23, 2020
Dakkada went on a rollercoaster. Unbeaten in their first six games with an unchanged XI. Draws at Delta Force and Heartland, followed by a home win before the Antelopes of Rangers were slaughtered at the Cathedral 2-0 and another slim win over Warri Wolves birthed their arrival.
After Dakkada dimmed the stars of 3SC, Rangers International followed and Enyimba soon got their own share of the cake. The boys showed no respect for the “elders”. In the end, after some poor run of form owing to unpalatable welfare treatment and the suspension of the league, Dakkada finished 12th on the table based on Points Per Game (PPG). They punched above their weight and rubbed shoulders with the big boys in the top division.
Dakkada FC & MFM seem to just be feeder teams for the rest of the NPFL clubs. That type of model is likely to leave them flirting with relegation more so than being a competitive side
— C7# (@Supereaglescomp) August 15, 2020
Despite their individual performances and team effort, one would have expected some of the boys to stay, but the poor welfare structure in the team, has made the exits inevitable. Dakkada has become a shopping ground for top NPFL clubs who aren’t rudderless about the new season. Asides Utibe Arit who moved to Lobi Stars during the mid-season, several others have jumped ship already and more exodus is expected.
Shortly after a season where Dakkada scored 26 goals (league’s 5th best record) and picked 11 points away from home (6th in the league), most of the players are in search of greener pastures and the coach is in the middle of a meltdown. Disheartening!
Dakkada's left-back Imo Obot could be on his way to Enyimba while centre-back Somiari Alalibo has moved on to join a team campaigning on the continent ahead of the new season.
— Engineer Kowope (@Undisputed_Jsam) August 13, 2020
Dakkada head coach Caleb Esu is also in the dark about his future with the team. He spoke to Uyo-based radio station Comfort FM about his situation; “I am aware [that next season will not be easy]. I can’t say, I think they have their plans.” Before this time, Esu has been vocal about the team’s lack of financial motivation from the management before the lockdown. Clearly, that fell on deaf ears.
Team’s first-choice goalkeeper Vincent Edafe has joined Abia Warriors, centre-back Somiari Alalibo and left-back Imo Obot are off to Enyimba, Moses Effiong has also moved to Plateau United while mercurial midfielder Esor Archibong has teamed up with Rangers for the new season.
In the same spirit, Femi Ajayi – Dakkada’s top scorer last season with seven goals – will not feature for the orange side in the coming campaign while fringe player Arinze Obuka is considering a move away from Uyo. ACL sports did report that midfielder Osimaga Duke and winger Isaac George are transfer targets of some other NPFL clubs.
If the recent happenings are any reason to go by, many would tip Dakkada to be relegation candidates come next season. However, there is still time to put some things in place and ensure that the club does not drown immediately it swam out of the seas of irrelevance.
Despite being a shoestring budget team, the “Chosen Ones” can turn this whole situation around. Having made some cash off the sales, turning this into the model of operation could be pivotal. Dakkada – stand up in Ibibio – the club can still stand tall even in the face of this storm.
Is this the end of the road for Dakkada or the continuation of a beautiful beginning? Share your thoughts in the comments box.
Follow Samuel on Twitter: @Undisputed_Jsam
Photo credit: npfl.ng