Since the official confirmation of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan’s relegation to the second tier of Nigerian football last Saturday, management and fans of the team have traded blames in no equal proportion as to how the team failed in their battle to stay up for another year.
The Oluyole Warriors, one of Nigerian football’s ancient sides promoted back to the top flight at the end of the 2013/14 season, after spending one season in the second division following demotion at the end of the 2012/13.
But since its return, Shooting Stars have battled relegation year in, year out, with Gbenga Ogunbote masterminding the team’s escape in the past two seasons. However, they were not third time lucky this season as they slid out of the top flight after a final day loss to Niger Tornadoes in Lokoja.
Our chief football writer Fisayo Dairo in his investigation spoke to the key actors of the team, the state’s Commissioner for Youth and Sports Abayomi Oke, Club Chairman Gbolagade Busari, technical adviser Fatai Amoo and experienced star Abu Azeez.
For the purpose of this first part, the opinions of Azeez and Busari who agreed on the factor leading to the team’s failure shall be considered.
“It’s not time to trade blames but we all have to take responsibility,” Nigeria Beach Eagles star Azeez told www.aclsports.com
“The players gave their all. If not, we wouldn’t have secured points in difficult places like Enugu and Maiduguri. Even at Remo Stars, we were just unlucky to concede in the last minute to get a draw.”
“If we look at it very well, the team lost it in the first half of the season. We did very well when I joined the team in the second half but the deed had been done,” added the former Warri Wolves and Enyimba star.
In fairness to Abu Azeez’s thoughts, 3SC had a spell between Match Days 9 and 17 when they won just one game in nine matches during which they had 3 successive home draws.
That was definitely not good enough to stay afloat, something club chairman Busari agreed to.
3SC Chairman Gbolagade Busari
“The relegation is not something we expected,” began a sombre Busari. “We never planned it that way but we have been able to narrow it down to one or two factors that caused the team to falter.”
“Number one is our performance in the first half of the season when we drew about four matches at home. That is about eight points lost.
“In the Nigerian league, it is very paramount for you to win your games at home if you really want to sustain yourself very well.
“That we didn’t do in the first stanza and by time we decided to pick it up in the second stanza, I guess it was a little bit late because we actually did well in the second stanza when we won about seven of our eight home games but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough to escape relegation.
With the team’s relegation already confirmed after Wikki Tourists beat Gombe United in the conclusion of their tempestuous game last Saturday, both management and financiers of the team must now look forward to life after the NPFL.