By: Oscar Durunna
It’s no longer a secret that officiating has been the bane of Nigerian football, it appears to have been accepted as a norm that home teams must win in front of their home fans.
While this in itself is a terrible misnomer in our football, the officials themselves aren’t helping matters.
Referee Damian Akure and his team of officials A Mohd NG, Oluwaseun NG and E. Iyorhei BN took this to a new level when he found himself in the center of arguably the biggest game of Matchday 29 the NPFL; FC Ifeanyi Ubah vs Enyimba International.
That, his very first game of the season was a game of this magnitude should have set the alarm bells ringing.
Referee Damian set the ball of criminally terrible decisions rolling when he awarded a foul to Ifeanyi Ubah for a non existent tackle. Other decisions included incorrectly flagging Mfon Udoh offside while in a promising position down the right hand side. One very egregious decision involved booking Enyimba striker Abdullahi for simulation when he was clearly fouled in the box and could have gotten a penalty.
The worst decision of them all involved allowing Godwin Obaje who was miles offside to score am unfair goal.
An FC Ifeanyi Ubah licensed photographer was involved in a bust up with Fatai Dauda the Enyimba Goalkeeper and appeared to strike the stopper in the face. To Dauda’s credit, he didn’t retaliate. Yet the referee didn’t do anything about the players who surrounded the Enyimba goalie.
For every substitution there ought to be 30 seconds added on, and Coach Gbenga Ogunbote made 3 subs in the 2nd half, not even counting the number of players involved in simulation and rolling around on the turf. Yaw Preko made same number of subs in the 2nd half as well, going by that, there should have been at least 3 minutes added on for the substitutions, at least 4 minutes for treatment of injured players, and 3 minutes for the altercation between the photographer and Fatai Dauda.
This writer was aghast when only 2 minutes of added time was indicated, and to add insult to injury, the 2 minutes of added were not exhausted. A total of 59 seconds was played instead of the alloted 2 minutes.
This writer has it on good authority that the referee was actually threatening the Enyimba players on the field, telling them “I go give una red card, una no wan find me something Abi?” he even said to a certain FCIU player “go forward, enter their eighteen if them touch you I go give you penalty”. It is a known fact that referee Damian Akure was lodged at the plush Beverley Hills hotel which is next door to the stadium, curious how he could afford that on a referee’s subvention.
It is strongly recommended that referee Damian Akure be investigated and suspended for bringing the NRA into disrepute. Also tight security should be implemented outside the referees changing rooms and nobody should be allowed in our out before a game. FCIU officials were in a closed door meeting with the referee just before the game, perhaps that was the reason why the kickoff was delayed.
In conclusion, this is a quintessential example as to why our League officials are rarely accepted on the continent, and why our teams don’t often do well against the backdrop of other African teams.