By Ime Bassey and KATE OBODO
One of the 1980 African Cup of Nations heroes, Charles Bassey (MON) has called on the the Nigerian Premier League, NPL board to critically look into the issue of officiating asserting that it is killing the game in the country.

Making this known to Inside Out Premier League at the U J Esuene Stadium in Calabar after watching Akwa United defeat visitors, Shooting Stars of Ibadan 1-0, the member of the technical committee of the Uyo based team said that it has increased the syndrome of winning at cost for home teams.

“Most coaches are putting too much pressure on their management to play the politics of today in the league which was not there in our days. I don’t know how we will get the issue solved because it is eating our football negatively every passing second.

“The trend of winning home matches and losing away ones is a pointer to the fact that our league is not growing the way it ought to. Referees should search their consciences very well and handle matches the way they must be.

“Nigerian referees should seat up, this was not happening in our time. I frown very seriously on this trend in our league. We have a lot of talents in the country but they are being frustrated by officiating.

“There is a problem with clubs taking care of referees’ indemnities because they (referees) cannot erase any soft spot in their heart for the home clubs. Also, the issue of security must be looked into by the NPL as it affects referees’ disposition to the game, he stressed.

 Eguma calls for support against Coton Sport

Dolphins Technical Adviser Stanley Eguma  has urged Nigerians to continue in their support as they contend with Coton Sport of Cameroon in the CAF Champion’s League first leg in two weeks time in Port Harcourt.

Last month, the team defeated their Equatorial Guinean opponents, Sony Ela Neguma  both home and away to draw the Cameroonians.

According to Eguma, “we are doing every thing within our limit to ensure that we do well in the competition, especially as we are representing the country at large.

“We are planning ahead. Nigerians should know that the Champions League is not  easy, the higher we go  the tougher it becomes. And our next  opponent is  Coton Sports and this team are not pushovers. We must try as much as possible to win for the next round. That is why we are urging Nigerians to support us as we proceed in this battle,” he said

Heartland demand probe of Enugu fracas

Heartland FC of Owerri have called for a full scale investigation into the incident that happened  immediately after the ‘top of the bill’ game between them and Enyimba of Aba at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu last Sunday.

Media Officer, Cajetan Nkwopara  while condemning the unfortunate incident, said the club would be happy if those who attempted to cause trouble and confusion after the match are unmasked and brought to book.

Video evidence has shown that supporters in the colours of both teams as well as other non-uniformed and bare-chested fans ran into the field after the final whistle. On sighting the fans, the match officials and other spectators took to their heels for fear of being injured while the police managed to arrest one suspect.

Nkwopara said because Heartland FC abhors hooliganism, the club has totally condemned the attempt by some people to cause trouble and would urge  the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) to launch an unbiased and full scale investigation into the incident.

“On paper, Heartland FC were recorded as playing home and so people took it for-granted that every trouble must be from Heartland or that anyone who puts on a red T-shirt must be Heartland fan or that such a person must be acting at the behest of and or interest of Heartland. But I stand here today to disprove this notion,” Nkwopara stated.

“As a club, we fulfilled all that was required of us for there to be adequate security in the match but we are not in-charge of the security. Therefore, if there was a security lapse somewhere that enabled the fans to gain access to the field area after the match, Heartland FC should not be held responsible. These are some of the puzzles we believe a thorough and unbiased investigation can solve,” he added.

The media officer re-affirmed his club’s commitment in joining hands with the NPL to rid off Nigerian football of hooliganism.

“We don’t want hooliganism in football and because we (Heartland FC ) have been victims severally, we must continue to fight against it. We’ll stand by NPL in its effort to bring sanity and reputation to our league,” he concluded.

 Cooreman targets double titles for Wolves

Warri Wolves  coach Maurice Cooreman has said that his ambition is to make a remarkable history for the club this season by  winning  the CAF Confederation Cup and also finish credibly well in the league.

The Belgian tactician who left Kaduna Untied early this season  to the oil rich state, told Inside Out Premier League in Warri last weekend  that he hopes to  win a double for the club this season.

“Having won two league titles in two different clubs in Nigeria and also FA cup, the only  thing I have not won is a continental competition and I hope to win that for  Warri Wolves. This is possible with the calibre of  players I have alongside having an understanding chairman who has a vast knowledge on how to run a true professional club,”the former Enyimba of Aba coach said.

Disclosing that his stay at Kaduna United was “frustrating” for him, Cooreman said that “I feel  good coming back to another Nigerian club side especially a bigger one.”

“Empty promises forced me out of Kaduna United. I had wanted to stay more for the team but their unending promises forced me out. At the beginning of this season, I had a meeting with the management and they assured me that the State Government was ready to support the team. I was also privileged to meet with some senior government officials and the assurance was that all will be well. Before I knew what was happening, without my knowledge they sold over 16 players. I decided I will still wait for them. But when it was becoming too much and there was no clear cut approach to how we were going to prepare for the season, I did some rethink and thereafter decided that I must leave the team.

“At this time, the season started and I barely could raise a team to play the first game against Jigawa Golden Stars. The promises kept coming that my contract is secure, that I will recruit good players.

It got to a point where I could not bear it any longer and decided that I must look for a team that will always promise me that all will be well without any action.

Though other clubs had called for my  service but  when Warri Wolves came calling, I did not hesitate to move because I knew they will surely be better than Kaduna United,”

Goal scoring, a global thing  — Ogbiede

As Week 15 matches of the  Nigerian Premier League gets underway today across the country, Akwa United Coach, Solomon Ogbeide has underplayed his players inability to score many goals as he said that the issue is a global thing.

Speaking to Inside Out Premier League at the U J Esuene Stadium in Calabar after his team’s 1-0 win over Shooting Stars, he said that his is attention is on winning even if the goals are few.

“Goal scoring is a global thing and not particularly the problem of Akwa United only. We are going back to the drawing board to address the issue properly. The way it is, we cannot afford to lose focus of the fact that we just have to win and continue improving on our attack even though the goals are few.

“We will play the game with a mind set of victory. We just want to win the game and stay in tune with our dream for the season,” Ogbeide said.

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