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Lobi Stars as beneficiary of NFF crisis



Lobi Stars as beneficiary of NFF crisis

The crisis that enveloped Nigerian Football shortly after 2018 World Cup is so unfortunate. The desperation on the part of the principal personalities in the crisis is a big issue. Even after the Federal Government came out clearly to support the leadership of Amaju Pinnick, the faction of club owner Chris Giwa, is still perpetrating trouble behind the scene. It was strange and absurd that after Nigeria barely escaped the hammer of the Federation of International Football Federation (FIFA), the Giwa faction staged a board meeting in Abuja. Till date, they operate and plan of the very next agenda to hit up the sports polity.


We frown vehemently at the persistent stand of the minister of sports, Solomon Dalung, whose utterances and actions were evident enough that he has sympathy for the Giwa faction. Only last week, Dalung granted an interview to journalists to again state that he preferred the laws of the land to the laws of FIFA, owners of the round leather game. He added that the forthcoming elections into the NFF will be in futility if the court issues were not resolved. All these were happening at a time Nigerians were experiencing a semblance of peace in the country’s football. The eaglets are in Niger Republic competing for honours, Enyimba are on the continent as Confederation Cup quarterfinalist while the Falcons are getting set for the African Championships.


We wrote on two occasions about the implication of the crisis in the NFF and already one of such has manifested to rock the football community in Nigeria. The domestic football league was on break during the crisis and after the escape of FIFA ban, it was also difficult to continue the league and run the full course. The elite league was 14 weeks away from the end and there were only seven weeks before the deadline given to all countries by the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) to submit the names of representatives for Africa championships.



However, after leading the table for most part of the 24 Match Day of the Nigeria Professional Football League 2017/2018 season, the League Management Company (LMC) and the club owners decided to end the season with 14 games to go and announced Lobi Stars as the Champions and the country’s representative on the continent next year.


We frown at this hasty decision because the LMC could have at least given the other teams competing for the title a chance to fight for the league title. For example, we expect that the LMC should have allowed the league to restart at least for six weeks to allow a true champion to emerge.

Apart from Lobi Stars, other winners of the bad decision are the clubs already battling relegation – Sunshine Stars, Heartland, Go Round, Yobe Dessert Stars, FC IfeanyiUbah and Kwara United. It is obvious that it would have been impossible for some of these six teams especially Heartland and Sunshine, who had three points deducted from their total results due to the unruly behaviour of their fans, to escape the drop.


With the new format of 24 teams competing next season, they will have the opportunity of getting set to fight from their zone to achieve a better placing at the end of the campaign.


During the break, the players of Akwa United were upbeat about replacing Lobi Stars at the top of the table and going on to win the title after winning the Aiteo Cup last year. However, their ambition has been cut short and will have to wait for another time to emerge champions of the NPFL. The Uyo-based team was just two points behind Lobi Stars.


There are other effects of the abrupt end to the league. The match officials who made their living from officiating games will also be counting their losses while the fans, the petty traders who make brisk business during league matches will also be lamenting over this development.


We are particularly disturbed that the abrupt end to the league this time is a bad precedent that could affect football development in the country. At the weekend, there were feelers from the lower leagues in the country and the women league about the desire of the leading teams to also have the league stopped. This is just the beginning of a bad example set with the current situation.


Sad enough, Lobi Stars FC also lack the pedigree to play on the continent and the poor run of Nigerian clubs in Africa might continue.

We don’t want to go into the politics of how the LMC and the stakeholders arrive at this decision, rather, we strongly advise that in future all aspects of the game must be considered before arriving at a decision.


Football issues affect many people because Nigerians love the game. So many people are attached to the game in one way or the other. Lobi Starts are not true champions of the NPFL, they are just beneficiary of the crisis which engulfed the country’s football in the past months.

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