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When Odiliís blank cheque couldnít save Sharks

Posted by VANGUARD on 2003/10/27 | Views: 2552 |

When Odiliís blank cheque couldnít save Sharks

THE huge crowd that turned out to witness Lobi Stars of Makurdi, Benue State sink Sharks FC of Port Harcourt, Rivers State at last weekendís 48th Coca Cola FA Cup final.....

at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna attests to the fact that football is truly the real opium of the masses, and given itís mass appeal, could turn a potent force for nation building. Sharks, who had lost the battle to stay afloat in the nationís premier soccer division needed the Coca Cola FA Cup to remain relevant in top flight football next season. They entered the game with an over bloated ego, believing the Makurdi Stars were for kill.

Fans of the Rivers club had flooded Kaduna with several loads of luxury buses that at the start of the match, not even partisan northern (Kaduna) fans, who were obviously outnumbered could drown their songs, drums and dance at the stands. Most of the fans that came in from Port Harcourt had on a white T-shirts with Sharks boldly written on the front. And at the rear, an embossed photograph of Governor Peter Odili, with the inscription: Odili Ė The Soccer Governor is boldly written.

Sharks had all the support needed to win, and they went for the kill, but a combination of timidity and blunt attacking skills denied them of goals. Not even Lobiís 40th minute goal could dampen their spirit. At the interval, the governor spoke to the players, urging them to win. He promised them an undisclosed amount, should they equalize and win. A win would be their first in 25 tries.

Sharks came into the second half with Odiliís blank cheque in mind and went for the kill early on, hitting the upright in the 47th minute. And they were to continue pilling pressure upfront with no goals in sight. With the midfield completely dominated by Sharks, Lobi resorted to the old English style football, kicking the ball from the defense to the guys upfront. In this process, they always caught the Sharks defense flat footed in a counter-attacking play.

As the minutes ticked away, one neutral fan had confidence that Sharks could swim out of troubled waters to winning ways. Effiom Uyom, Rhythm 93.7FM Sports Editor believed their superior ball possession could still give them the day. But Lobi had also closed up their flanks making penetration extremely difficult for Sharks. And in quick counter offensive, Lobi caught them off guard as David Noibi struck in the 87th minute to silence the drum beats of the Port Harcourt fans.

One Sharks fan screamed: "Just like Cameroon did to Nigeria." He was referring to Cameroonís soccer victory over Nigeria at the 8th All Africa Games held in Abuja. Cameroon won 2-0, and in this epic soccer battle between two sides seeking their first win at this competition, it was Lobi Stars who had the day 2-0. Not even Odiliís blank cheque could salvage this finless Sharks.

When Sharksí fans started leaving the stadium, Kaduna fans taunted them with a new song: One-by-one, dem dey go! One-by-one, dem dey go. . It was a comic twist to defeat, and fresh air to the tensed atmosphere. Lobi wanted to win, and they won. Sharks? They were like uptown children. They have money, good ball control, but no ball sense.

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