The veteran sports administrator gives reasons why he thinks the Owena Whales have struggled to impress in the Nigerian top division this season
Former Director General of the National Sports Commission Gbenga Elegbeleye gives reasons why Sunshine Stars struggled to impress this season in the Nigeria Professional Football League.
After their semi-finals at the 2012 Caf Champions League – where they were sent to pack by eventual champion Al Ahly – many predicted the Owena whales would become a dominant force on the local scene.
That optimism has yet to become a reality as the Akure-based team struggled to impress the season in the Nigerian top division, season after season.
Since the 2020/21 season comes to an end on Thursday, Sunshine are languishing in the relegation zone – and occupy 17th place with 42 points from 37 games.
To avoid relegation, they must beat Rivers United at home while hoping either Heartland, Abia Warriors, Jigawa Golden Stars or Wikki Tourist stalled on the final day.
gate engages one of the club’s senior statesmen in an uncompromising conversation to find out why the stars toned down this campaign.
Elegbeleye was a member of the Committee of Ministers for the Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria and former President of the Nigerian Youth Sports Federation in Ondo State.
“The fans are more of a problem for the club. You can imagine Sunshine Stars being suspended from their own soil due to the recalcitrant behavior of their own fans, ”he said gate.
“They are banned by the LMC to places like Ijebu Ode and Lagos, where they play their home games. Games that are played there are like away games because the home support would not be there.
“That wasn’t good for the team. That being said, you think of logistical problems and a lot of money that has to be spent to get out of your comfort zone to play in an unfamiliar environment. “
He also pointed to non-payment of players ‘and officials’ salaries when due, while questioning the intentions of some of the club’s large wigs.
“Before Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was sworn in, the players and officials of the team had salaries of eight to ten months due. How do you expect them to get results on an empty stomach? ”He asked.
“The morale of the players was so low because so many of them were breadwinners for their families. So how should they do their best?
“As you know, a hungry man is an angry man. These are some of the main Sunshine Stars problems.
“I’m sorry to have to say, a lot of people want to be part of the club management because they believe they can get benefits.
“They did not realize that football is not about what you get, but what you want to give. I remember paying winning bonuses out of my pocket to these players.
“My dream is to see Sunshine Stars players transfer to Europe and travel to Europe to play for the Super Eagles. That should be the vision, not people who are looking for the benefit of the team. “
Even with the sad picture he has painted, he does not rule out the ability of Deji Ayeni’s men to escape relegation to the Nigerian second division.
“For me, it is possible to escape from relegation. After winning at Enyimba, all they have to do is win their last home game against Rivers United, ”he added.
“I think that is very possible. But every slip would make things more difficult. Sunshine has to work hard. “