✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Instead of death, my club can lose some matches – Lobi Stars GM

I grew up just like any other young man. I got into football right from my primary school days up to secondary school and the…

I grew up just like any other young man. I got into football right from my primary school days up to secondary school and the higher institutions that I attended. I played for junior BCC Lions as you know. I was the captain of junior Lions for like five years but unfortunately I could not play further than that because of an injury I sustained early in my career. From there I went back to school to further my education. After my studies, I worked briefly in Lagos with MultiSports Concepts. It is a sports outfit that is into players’ management and transfer. After that I got the opportunity to work with Coach Amodu Shaibu when he was with Sharks FC of Port-Harcourt in 2002. From there I came over to Abuja and was appointed Manager of FC Taraba. I was the one who bought over SEC FC Abuja. It may interest you to know that I was the one who named the team FC Taraba. I was there for like one year before Lobi Stars Chief Executive Mr. Dominic Iorfa asked me to come back home and I was appointed the team’s coordinator. Although I had to drop from my position as a club manager, I did not bother because there is nothing as fulfilling as serving your state team after you have served others. I served as coordinator of the team for two years before I was finally appointed the General Manager. So this is my first year as General Manager of Lobi Stars FC.

You are a young football administer and considering the fact that managing a club like Lobi Stars is certainly not a tea party, how are you coping with your present assignment?

Football management requires a lot of managerial experience. Managing football is quite different from all other sports. As you and I know, you have to be a football person to do football business. And from what I have told you so far, I am sure you will agree with me that I have the prerequisite knowledge and experience to handle this responsibility. Having managed a premier League club and other professional clubs, managing Lobi Stars is not a different ball game. I am in a familiar terrain and in as much as the challenges are almost daunting, I am coping and my employers are obviously impressed with my performance so far. I played the game and I have been in the game for long now so there is no problem managing Lobi Stars FC. It is not about age but experience and confidence.

Lobi Stars started the season on a promising note with an away draw against two time African Champions, Enyimba FC of Aba and at week five the team was leading the table but the story is not the same again. Lobi Stars is begging to struggle again. What is the problem?

Like you rightly said, Lobi Stars started very well and with the good away results, we would have still been on top of the table, if we were winning our home matches. Unfortunately, the problem of Lobi Stars is winning at home not away. Even when Lobi Stars was threatened by relegation last season, we drew five away matches which is not a bad result by the standard of Nigerian League.

So what is responsible for the inability of Lobi Stars to win its matches at home because it is said there is no place like home?

 You are correct. There is no place like home but the same can not be said about Lobi Stars. The problem is basically undue pressure. The people of Benue State expect so much from the team but they are not ready to exercise patience and the required understanding. Even when Lobi Stars was doing very well at the beginning of the season, you could still see and read a lot of demoralizing write ups and comment in the state owned media. They kept inciting the fans against the club. Government is doing its best in terms of sponsorship but most of the fans are deliberating dragging us backward. They must learn from fans of other clubs like Enyimba, Heartland and Kano Pillars who stand by their clubs at all times. If not for Aba fans, we were beating Enyimba FC in the opening match of the League. These clubs always have the 12th player which is the fans.

Are you sure the fans are properly mobilized and the necessary awareness created to engender the needed support for the team?

The club’s problem has gone beyond the issue of fans mobilization. We have tried to see how we can take the fans along but certain individuals are hell bent on pulling down the club for personal reasons. As at week five of the on going season, we had not lost any match yet, we got nothing more than negative publicity. Our good results were supposed to be mobilizing the fans for us but the reverse was the case. How then do you mobilize such people?

Considering the increasing fan apathy and occasional hostility towards the club management, are you not worried that Lobi Stars may record yet another barren season?

It is hard to say because we have been swimming against the tide. It is a bit difficult but we are forging ahead. Our expectation is to improve on our present performance so that in the end, we would have something to show for all the efforts on the side of the government and the management of the club. If not for our determination, we wouldn’t have been where we are because the home front is not really united. Sometimes malicious lies are told just to run down the management. We are not saints but most of these stories are figments of the imagination of the fabricators.

You have been on Nigeria’s football scene for some time now. What can you say is responsible for the win at home by all means syndrome which is said to be killing the Nigerian League?

The problem of Nigerian League is the referees and some club managers. Not that the referees are completely bad but they are exposed to serious danger in the hands of the home teams. All these happen because the managers themselves are under perpetual pressure to win in order to keep their jobs. Consequently, they too transfer the pressure to the referees and when it doesn’t work; most of them resort to harassment and intimidation of the match officials and the visiting teams. Let me tell you frankly that sometimes, I even pray for my team to lose an away match so that we can leave the match venue alive. There were matches my team was leading and I prayed fervently for the home team to equalize so that I and my team would leave the stadium alive. Such clubs may be banished from their home grounds but before you know it, they are back and worse than ever before. To make matters worse, most referees at the end don’t reflect such incidents in their match reports. It baffles me very much why a match official who was physically assaulted would not reflect that in his or her report for necessary action against the erring club. These things happen because teams like to win by all means at home.

There is this move to stop club owners and managers from being part of the next NPL board. Don’t you think this will remove some of the problems of the league like over interference in the running of the League?

I don’t subscribe to this idea. Even if you go to the English Premier League, you will find out that club owners are still part of the League board. Personally, I don’t think having club owners on the NPL board is a bad idea. It is just that here in Nigeria, things are always done the other way. However, I feel strongly that football people should be allowed to do football business. Even if those who are interested in becoming board members of the NPL are forced to relinquish their present appointment as club managers, they will always have a soft spot for their clubs. Banning us from becoming members of the NPL to me does not make sense. FIFA itself wants football business to be done by football people. We should not be seen to be different.

VERIFIED: It is now possible to live in Nigeria and earn salary in US Dollars with premium domains, you can earn as much as $12,000 (₦18 Million).
Click here to start.