Congrats to Plateau Utd on title triumph, but . . .

By Daily Sports on September 12, 2017

Views: 2,463

The Nigeria premier league has come to an end and the people of Jos, Plateau State, are in celebration mode as their famous darling club Plateau United have emerged champions for the first time in the club's history. After 38 gruelling weeks and matches, Coach Kennedy Boboye’s United crowned their efforts with a handsome 2-0 win against last year's champions Rangers International of Enugu in the last game of the season on Saturday.

From what I glimpsed of Plateau United this season, they played good football generally throughout the course of the campaign. That alongside the stress of travelling by road to honour away matches and the overall high costs of maintaining participation in the Nigerian apex league means that no one should begrudge them of the title. Also, Boboye is a fine manager, noted for his tactical soundness in the firmament of Nigerian local football, and comparatively speaking, it’s hard to float the argument that he doesn’t deserve this fine moment.

That said, I would like to point out that the Nigerian premier league this season, as well as the lower leagues of the nation’s football continue to be dogged by some obvious ills and it makes the league to be taken unseriously, and title wins like this to receive a diminished applause from neutrals.

Firstly we must talk, like we often do, about the level of officiating this season. If you look at the final league table you would see that most of the top teams won averagely half of their matches. Which is actually about the number of home matches they played. Then look at the average weekly league results and you would also find that there was an overwhelming predominance of home wins.

On a number of weekends you find a hundred percent home wins. All the teams who lose away one week, all end up winning at home the following week.

What it shows is that there have been very few away wins this season, even if there have been a marginal increase in away wins from previous seasons.

Surely, this can’t be a coincidence since it’s been so for ages. Are we saying we can’t get a champion that would dominate others by winning a good number of away games, rather than the two or three away wins we see from league winners.

Even teams that have been relegated (save for bottom of the table Remo Stars) still managed to win most of their home games.

Why are away wins still uncommon in our local football? Surely this must have something to do with the level off officiating in the league.

The appointments of referees, their training and logistical arrangements for matches all have to be seriously reviewed to ensure that referees are not compromised by home teams to favour them unduly.

It is also acknowledged that our local referees’ seeming incapacity to stand by the rules and officiate games well has much to do with their fears about their safety as well as any corrupt offers they get from club owners to sway the outcomes of matches. Security concerns, in the eyes of many, is the greatest compromiser

The security situation in most grounds is diabolically poor. Fans still continue to intimidate and harass referees and visiting clubs on a regular basis, in ways that could really force a ref to dance to their tune for peace to reign.

Then we come to the quality of football dished out in some games. Some matches this season have been played in good pitches and with appreciable crowds turning up at the stands. But a lot of people won’t tune in to watch Nigerian premier league games because many of the pitches where local games are played are an eye sore.

The Jos pitch, for example, where Plateau beat Rangers was a terrible advertisement and anyone who had tuned in to watch the defending  Nigerian champions play against the about to be crowned new champions would have been disappointed, as I was, to see the playing condition of the pitch in such a big game.

I’ve seen a couple of games where the pitch condition looked even worse.

Let’s not forget the old problem of players being owed salaries and other allowances. This has been a theme in many clubs this season. It’s heartbreaking to work your bottom off for a sporting cause and in the end the club doesn’t fulfill its contractual agreement with you as a player. Little wonder the best players have their attention sharply divided between concentrating on the local league and the foreign leagues during the season, with a view to jumping out immediately an opportunity arrives.

Watching the Nigerian league on TV and following the league in the news still gives room for depression about the state of our premier league, and if these ills are not tackled, the glamour in the triumphs of teams like Plateau United would be lacking in lustre.

Source Daily Sports

Posted September 12, 2017


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