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INVESTIGATION: Why FC Ifeanyi Ubah abandoned NPFL opener

NPFL By: Chris Oguguo | 15/01/2017

FC Ifeanyi Ubah players in a league game against Nasarawa United last season. They have been embroiled in a controversy after abandoning their 2017 season opener against Kano Pillars on Saturday.

It is no longer news that FC IfeanyiUbah abandoned their 2017 Nigeria Professional Football League opener against Kano Pillars in Kano, while the home side were ahead.

Read also: Shame! First Nigeria League game of the season abandoned

The ‘Anambra Warriors’ as they are called, refused to continue with the game in the early parts of the second half, after allegedly getting orders from the proprietor of the club, Ifeanyi Ubah, not to go ahead with the game, citing poor officiating from the referee.

Pillars had taken a first half through Gambo Mohammed, who latched onto a rebound to give the former champions the lead.

Midfielder Rabiu Ali had played a through pass to Amos Gyang, and the striker found himself through on goal, with only Ubah goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa standing between him and a sure goal, but Gyang somehow, managed to miss, as he hit the crossbar instead. Gambo was however on hand to score from the rebound, even though he appeared to have been slightly offside. But there were no protests from FC IfeanyiUbah, and the goal stood.

Then shortly before the halftime break, on the dot of 45 minutes, IfeanyiUbah won a free kick in a dangerous position.

Nigeria international and former Sunshine Stars forward Prince Aggrey took the kick, which deflected off Rabiu Ali and beat Pillars’ goalkeeper David Obiazor and ended in the back of the net.

However, the controversy ensued after center referee Folusho Ajayi from Oyo State, blew her whistle just when the free kick was taken and the ball in motion to signal the end of the half but all these must have happened within a nanosecond, as the ball was finding its way into the back of the net just as the referee’s whistle was sounding.

Expectedly, the FC IfeanyiUbah players protested and cried blue murder at the referee’s decision in a game that was broadcast live on television across Africa and had in attendance, the governor of Kano State, Umar Ganduje and the LMC chairman, Shehu Dikko.

During the interval, an official of FC Ifeanyi Ubah allegedly put a call across to club owner Ifeanyi Ubah, who allegedly ordered his team to vacate the match and not go ahead with it.

“One of the club officials was on phone all through the half time break to Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, who ordered them not to continue the match. It was a shameful development to be honest,” a source in Kano told fcnaija.com.

“The issue started with the referee, I don’t know why she continues to get games. She was in charge for the controversial Plateau United v Heartland game which got Heartland relegated last season. How do you blow for the half time break when a free kick is still in play,” the source queried.

Fcnaija.com also did reach out to the FC IfeanyiUbah camp, with one of the officials confiriming they were ‘ordered’ not to go ahead with the game.

“Our chairman (Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah) ordered the players not to continue the match,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.

“We couldn’t go against his orders, he owns the club and pays everybody. Nobody wants to lose his job.”

It remains to be seen what decision the LMC will take, as they are yet to make any official statements as at the time of filing this report.

However, according to the LMC framework and rules for the 2016 season (none has been published for the 2017 season), article B13.26, it says: “Any club that refuses to continue with a game for a period up to five (5) minutes in a match or till the expiration of full time of either half of the game or walks-off the pitch in any form of protest against the decision of the referee or otherwise shall be liable to a fine of up to N3,000,000 (Three Million Naira only) payable before the club’s next match. In addition, three points may be deducted from accruable points of the club and also 3 points 3 goals shall be credited to the opponent.”

FC IfeanyiUbah are scheduled to play MFM at home next.

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