Four teams were promoted from the Nigeria National League (NNL) into the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) last season, they were ABS of Ilorin, Kastina United, Gombe United and Remo stars of Shagamu. Of all four, the Remo based team raised hopes of performing wonders in the NPFL having become the first team to secure promotion losing just one game throughout the abridged NNL season to emerge from group B1 as winners.
However, and somehow disappointing for their fans and neutrals alike, the Kunle Soname owned team are rooted to the bottom of the league after 21 games and are looking like a replica of last season’s Ikorodu United who finished the season in 20th position, securing an immediate return to the NNL where they have continued their disappointing run of form.
Comparing their performances with other promoted teams only ABS of Ilorin looks secured sitting in the 11th position while the other two teams such as Gombe and Kastina are both in the relegation battle. Kastina United, Shooting Stars, Wikki Tourist complete the bottom four, Gombe only sits above them in 16th by the virtue of goals scored. Three of the promoted four are not faring better as well but Remo stars look the disappointing of all.
The Sky Blue Stars practically started the season on a wrong foot losing at home on the opening day to current League leaders, Plateau United, and needing to wait till match day 3 to record their first win and points of the season after a slim 1-0 win over Abia Warriors, having lost away to fellow newcomers, Gombe United on matchday 2.
In a league where making most of away games and taking full advantage of home matches are crucial to the staying up and winning of the league, many would expect The Sky Blue Stars to gather enough points judging from their remarkable run in the NNL the previous season. It wasn’t going to be an easy ride in the NPFL, but the results at the midway point of the season suggest that perhaps the team wasn’t ready for the nitty gritty of the top flight.
The team added few players to their ranks in the offseason bringing in Fc Ifeanyi Ubah’s Solomon Enudi, Warri Wolves’ defender, Eyimofe Joseph , Plateau United’s Gideon Bewarang and Kaduna United’s Walbe David, as well as non-league duo of Diamond Stars’ Archibong Obo, Messiah FC’s Balogun Sodiq and Blue Liners’ Adekunle Tunde.
However, the Sagamu base team failed to bolster their squad with major signings who have reputations as experienced league players, signing a top striker like Jude Aneke before he moved to Ikorodu United in the NNL, that would have shown a bit of intent and ambitions in the league and added firepower to their game, the Oga Boys striker has hit 6 goals in just over 10 games in the NNL.
Remo Stars have relied majorly on players who helped the team promotion, like team skipper Victor Mbaoma, Oche Salefu, Obi Ekene all who are obviously talented players but lacked top flight experience. The skipper has scored 7 goals so far but has gone on a lengthy goal drought caused by a loss of form and injury which has affected the results of the team as no other player has been able to step up to the responsibility.
The team has already had three different Technical advisers which those not bode well for the development of a team. Former coach, Nduka Ugbade who led the team to promotion, had some promising results with the team before leaving the club at the end of his contract, leading the team to their first two wins in the top flight. However, Daniel Ogunmodede took over on a temporary basis before Fatai Osho returned to take charge of the team.
They have impressed with their performances but they have not done much to score the much-needed goals. Going into the mid-season break, Bright Ejike was bought on loan from Heartland Fc of Owerri and the 2nd highest goalscorer in the 2015/2016 league season has enough season to move the team forward, although it remains to be seen if he would make the much-desired impact.
On current form the team are on a 5-games winless run where they failed to score in any of the matches, losing by 1 goal in each of the last 5 games, having a poor 19 points from 21 games and sit 7 points adrift of safety, lost 3 home games this season and only gathered just 2 points on the road so far.
A return back to the National League beckons but it’s not too late to start a resurrection and with 17 games left to play, The Sky Blue Stars must start to take maximum points from their games either at home or away in order to retain their top-flight status.