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Match day 4 - Game Changer for 14/15 Season Featured

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 00:00 Written by  Published in Sports Read 775 times
Kano Pillars Kano Pillars Faucoart

The 2014/2015 Premier League season in Nigeria is shaping up to be a season of surprises and unpredictability. This is evident in the renewed interest and surge by fans to see more games live and direct.

Although it may be too early to call the season's leaders and losers, a sterling point was driven home early by match day 4, which has never been seen in the results of the League's season. What happened? One may ask. The answer revolves around wonderful results on the road by teams, home victories and draws which were not pyrrhic in nature at all, erring officials sanctioned and rightly so, as well as players that went overboard with joy, facing the music.

As a necessary digression therefore, it was a week that most followers of the league likened to a change that the nation needed urgently. More so, the overwhelming victory of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, president-elect, is not only seen as an epitome of change in our nation's history and the nation's football population, who wants our football to be in that realm too, but also a roadmap for the complete overhaul of the systemic running of the game
Now to the miracles of Match day 4; the doom and gloom around the league was shattered as a result of some steps rigorously and genuinely put in place, as well as monitored for successful implementation by the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF and the League Management Company, LMC.

First, Dolphins FC loss to Sunshine Stars FC in Akure in what was seen as a result of deliberate poor officiating, resulting in the referees' committee of the NFF suspending until the end of the current season, referee John Charles and assistant referee Ogunta Matador, for their roles in the scandalous performance. Moreso, two Sunshine Star players who over celebrated outside the rule of the game were each suspended for a league match and fined N50, 000 respectively.

Coach Stanley Eguma of Dolphins was sanctioned for comments “not palatable” to the growth of the game, and therefore fined N100, 000 by the LMC for his comments to the media after the match in Akure.

Wikki Tourists FC went to Umahia, pounding Abia Warriors FC in their own backyard as their coach, Abdul Maikaba returned to Bauchi undisturbed after the match.

The officials too were not intimidated or harassed by the usual unabatedly partisan Abia fans and supporters.
3SC of Ibadan stole one point on the road from Lafia, a point that has kept the team's coach Franklin Howard as the man still in Charge of the Oluyole Warriors.

Heartland FC travelled to Ilorin and hammered Kwara Utd by 3 goals to 1, prompting the club to apologize to its publics for the NPFL loss, specifically targeting its vocal fans and supporters not to “lose confidence in the team.” How the supporters accepted that will be a case study, given their known temperament and attitude in the past when the team did not do well.

In Makurdi, Lobi Stars FC failed to bank on home support to beat Sharks FC at the Aper Aku Stadium. So far, Lobi Stars FC has not won a premier league match in the current season. This must be a deep concern for the Dominic Iorfa led management team.

As if match day 4 was a floodgate of away victories, Abia Warriors went to Owerri in local derby to beat Heartland FC in Match day 5. Sunshine stars came, saw and conquered at the Imo capital when the Akure Gunners battered coach Erasmus Onu's tutored side 3-0 in Match day 7. FC Taraba was not left out in getting points on the road. This the team did in Port Harcourt and Uyo in style. Enyimba FC went to Jalingo and got 3 points against FC Taraba.
While getting these results, it is good to note that Match day 4 was the start of LMC's Best Referees Award; a weekly means of monitoring the performance of top-flight referees by seasoned referees' assessors and outstanding referees for the week.

Better still, indemnities of match officials are now better than before, and are paid upfront before matches. Also, the old ways of putting the fate of match officials in the entire hands of club officials is fading fast. I am sure other measures are firmly in place by the league operators in making the officials comfortable to go for a match, and make 50/50 calls at venues without fear or favor.

One important development that is worth mentioning is the turnaround effort by the wise and smarter clubs in the league. For them, getting up close and personal with fans and supporters has reduced the gap of misunderstanding that hitherto takes center stage in the scheme of things in managing the clubs.

Interestingly however, it will be fun to see how the home fans and supporters of teams, who are used to winning away from home or stealing points on the road, will now react and respond to a home defeat or loss.

With such reactions, one can rightly say that the teaming supporters or fans of our clubs are accepting the fact that in football, you win some, you lose some and you draw some, and heaven must not fall when the result of a league match does not go the way the fans want it, home or away.

Last modified on Thursday, 01 October 2015 05:11
Kasali Obanoyen

Obanoyen is at the National Professional Football League (NPFL), managed by the League Management Company (LMC).