Monday, December 07, 2009

Errors Mar Traditional Derby In Ibadan

Centre referee for last Saturday’s traditional clash between Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) and Enugu Rangers, Benjamin Nneji from Cross River State, was accused for failing to stay on top of the game at the Liberty Stadium.

Though the home side would be glad that the referee overlooked a blatant penalty in favour of visiting Enugu Rangers, it still felt that the officiating was far from top class.

It was the second straight game at home for Shooting Stars that ended goalless and putting the credentials of the Ibadan side’s ability to compete in the top-flight division in doubt.

Penultimate weekend, the Oluyole Warriors had played out a goalless draw with another Premier League side, Ocean Boys, at the same venue.

However, it was a packed Liberty Stadium, as fans gathered to watch the game between Shooting Stars and Rangers for the first time in the top-flight division in Ibadan since March 12, 2005 when the home side won by a lone goal. understands that the first of refereeing by Nneji was in the 85th minute when he failed to award the visiting side an obvious penalty.

One of the substitutes of the Flying Antelopes, Brendan Ogbu, was brought down inside the penalty area of Shooting Stars by Lekan Gabriel in that incident. The ref’s call left the bench of Enugu Rangers furious, as its head coach, Alphonsus Dike, had to control his backroom staff from invading the playing area. The scene got awry when fans inside the Liberty Stadium threw water canisters and satchets into the pitch though no one was hit from that incident.

But it was not up to three minutes when the centre referee erroneously waved a red card at Rangers’ central defender, Monday Odigie, for time-wasting.

Apparently aware that he had goofed in his call, referee Nneji upturned his decision to hand the Rangers’ player a marching order. Head coach of Rangers, Dike, was unhappy with the referee’s refusal to give his side an obvious penalty despite appeals from the bench during the game last Saturday.

Dike fears that the error of Nneji could cost his side dearly at the end of the season when points might matter most in its push for the title or African club ticket.

“He (the referee) is human and prone to error. It is bad for us because the game might have ended differently if he had awarded us a penalty. But that is football. Even in the big leagues in Europe, these things happen and we cannot rule out human errors in officiating,” Dike told our

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