Category: Blog

CAF Presidential Elections: Much ado about Nigeria’s Single Vote

The 39th General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) is scheduled to hold on the 16th of March, 2017. This year’s event enjoys the quadrennial significance of bringing another round of elections into the CAF Presidency and the Executive Committee.

From the Nigerian viewpoint, there seems little focus on whether or how the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick could wrest a CAF Executive Committee slot from incumbent member, and President of the football association of the Republic of Benin, Moucharafou Anjorin. Rather, much is being said about who will receive Nigeria’s backing for the CAF presidency.

Ahmad, President of Madagascar FA

In the last seven four-year terms for which he has been in office, incumbent CAF President, Issa Hayatou has faced opposition to his seat only twice, winning comfortably on both occasions. However, he currently appears to face stiff opposition from the President of the football association of Madagascar, Ahmad.

Following his revelation that the NFF would support Hayatou’s challenger, the NFF President has been criticized – by notable figures such as former NFF President, Sani Lulu and current NFF Executive Committee member, Chris Green – for showing his cards ahead of what is a secret ballot election and possibly placing Nigerian football in a precarious position in African football politics. It did not end there. The Nigeria Minister of Sport has recently also issued a press statement arguing that the position of the NFF President is a personal one and does not represent the position of the people and the government of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the NFF’s Media and Publicity Committee Chairman, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, has disclosed that the NFF Board had given Pinnick the discretion over who the NFF would vote for in the CAF Presidential elections. According to him, during an NFF board meeting on February 7, 2017, Pinnick was unanimously mandated to vote for a candidate who will best serve Nigeria’s interest.

Hayatou and Pinnick

So, with the difference in interests or opinions within Nigeria regarding the CAF presidency, one wonders how and to what extent Nigeria will have a say at the election into the CAF presidency. Nigeria is only one of the 56 members of CAF, each of whom is entitled to a single vote at the election.
Although each national association is entitled to a maximum of 3 delegates at the General Assembly, only one of them can vote on behalf of the national association.

The interest of government in the administration of football in Nigeria is archetypal; however, it is the NFF – recognized under CAF and FIFA statutes as the managers of football within Nigeria – that is empowered to determine what the mind of the people of Nigeria is, as far as international football administration is concerned. It is important to note that technically, ‘Nigeria’ is not a member of FIFA/CAF; NFF is!

Given his grip on African football politics over the past three decades, the fear of Issa Hayatou is not illogical. While one may reckon with those who would rather keep their ballot secret, Amaju Pinnick has hardly ever been one to bottle his words. His choice to beat the drums as part of the “courageous” band intent on installing a new generation of leadership at CAF level seems inspired by the change mantra recently witnessed at FIFA and even in global secular politics. Even if this band fails to take-over the CAF seat, they may at least, according to Mr. Pinnick, get the African football authorities to listen to a larger audience, which is in line with democratic ideals. Whatever the case, it appears too much is being made of NFF’s solitary vote in the CAF presidential elections, whereas Nigerian football would could more directly be impacted by the Executive Committee slot, for which the NFF President is contending.

 

Poor Treatment of Away Teams in CAF Inter-Club Competitions

After having their first experience of continental competition, Nigeria Federation Cup Champions, FC Ifeanyiubah have been left with a bitter taste in the mouth. In the video above (courtesy @SupportTheNPFL), the proprietor of the club, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, narrates part of their bitter experience when they travelled to Egypt to play against Al Masry in the second leg of their CAF Confederation Cup (CAFCC) preliminary round fixture. The club had won the first leg 1-0 in Nigeria the week before, taking the slender advantage to Egypt for the return match on 19th February, 2017.

As narrated by Dr. Ubah in addition to reports from other members of the team’s contingent to Egypt, FC Ifeanyiubah endured ill-treatment, including being deliberately delayed on the team bus for over an hour before the match, limited access to training, hostility from home fans (including the use of green laser beams shone of players’ faces) and even poor sportsmanship from officials of the home team. Al Masry went on to win 1-0 and draw the tie level on aggregate, before knocking the Nigerian team out of the competition via a 3-0 victory in the penalty shoot-out.

It is bad enough that travel within the African continent is still a complex challenge for clubs to deal with; one certainly feels that professional football clubs should at least show each other some level of professional courtesy and hospitality. Football has huge tourism and economic potential, which is still largely untapped in Africa, so it would be wise to cease the opportunity of a continental competition to promote African tourism and hospitality.

One of the sour points during the Al Masry v. FC Ifeanyiubah match was in the penalty shoot-out. After FC Ifeanyiubah had missed their first penalty kick, as their goalkeeper, Ikehukwu Ezenwa was preparing to defend the first penalty kick from Al Masry, an official of the Egyptian club encroached onto the field and into the goal post to remove the catholic rosary that the goal-keeper had placed in goal. Despite the goalkeeper’s efforts to retrieve it, the Al Masry club official made away with the rosary and lifted it triumphantly towards the home crowd. FC Ifeanyiubah then went on to miss their other two penalty kicks while Al Masry converted all three of theirs.

It did not end there as several media outlets reported that the Manager of the Egyptian club, African football legend Hossam Hassan, accused the Nigerian club of using sorcery (juju), in apparent reference to the rosary incident. Whereas expressions of religion have no place in professional football, such statements would indeed be insensitive to say the least.

It is high time CAF stepped up to ensure that hostile treatment of away teams becomes a thing of the past. The role of General Coordinators in CAF inter-club matches could be helpful in this regard. Their primary tasks include ensuring compliance with the rules of the reception and the residence of the teams and the officials; but these appointments are currently limited to the group stage of the competition only, as provided for in the CAFCC Regulations.

The ideals of fair play and sportsmanship must be observed and promoted both on and off the field. This will not only serve to improve teams’ experiences on the continent and ensure improved competitiveness, but will also boost the commercial allure of the CAF inter-club competitions.

 

 

Case Update: ‘Giwa v. Pinnick’ NFF Leadership Tussle

Having keenly followed the controversial ‘Giwa v. Pinnick’ case since 2014, yours truly was on hand at the Supreme Court today (20th February, 2017) to keep up with proceedings.

The current matter may not necessarily add significantly to the sports law jurisprudence in Nigeria, primarily because it simply entails whether or not the case earlier filed by the Giwa-faction, which was struck out, should be relisted. So, one does not believe the Justices of the Supreme Court – the apex court in Nigeria – have been presented with an opportunity to deliver a landmark decision in the Nigerian sports law context.

However, given the intrigues that this Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) leadership tussle has delivered both in and out of court, the case is worth following.

Brief History

Two factional elections into the Executive Board of the NFF were held in 2014, on 26th August and 30th September, which produced Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick respectively, each of whom claimed to have been elected President of the NFF. The Pinnick-led board was given recognition by the football authorities, including FIFA, which prompted the Giwa-led board (suing through its members led by Yahaya Adama) to go to court seeking to validate their election.

The case travelled back-and-forth through the Federal High Court, where the Giwa faction (following the intervention of former President Goodluck Jonathan, as reported) withdrew their case, which was then struck out on 30th October, 2014. Over a year later, with the end of the Jonathan Presidency and no end to the dispute, the Giwa-faction returned to court. On 8th April, 2016 the Federal High Court made an order relisting the case that was earlier struck out.

Upon Pinnick’s appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Federal High Court and in effect dismissed the application to relist the case. Mr. Giwa has now approached the Supreme Court to further pursue his application to relist his case.

The Supreme Court Proceedings

On the last court date – 16th January, 2017 – the Supreme Court had adjourned the case to 9th May, 2017 to determine, amongst other pending motions, a motion filed by the Pinnick-group lawyer, Festus Keyamo, requesting that the appeal be struck out. Mr. Keyamo is contending that the lawyer who signed the Notice of Appeal at the Supreme Court was not competent to do so in the circumstances that he had previously been barred by the Court of Appeal from appearing in the matter.

Presently, the Giwa faction requested the Court for an accelerated hearing of their own motions seeking for extension of time within which to file their appeal as well as for accelerated hearing of their appeal (i.e. before the return date of 9th May 2017).

The Supreme Court panel however delivered a quick ruling, stating that all circumstances were taken into consideration before the case was adjourned to 9th May and that no special circumstances had been shown as to why the adjourned date should be brought forward. The application was therefore refused, with the effect that the case will continue on 9th May, 2017.

Conclusion: The Road Ahead

There is indeed an incredibly long road ahead if the Giwa v. Pinnick dispute is to be resolved by litigation. Incredible because one struggles to see how a judicial solution can be reached ‘timeously’ in the present circumstances.

If the Supreme Court agrees to the relisting of the case, that would seem to take the substantive matter all the way back to the Federal High Court (i.e. for the Federal High Court to proceed to determine which is the valid election between Giwa and Pinnick), not to mention possible appeals therefrom.

On the other hand however, it could be the end of the road for the Giwa-faction if the Supreme Court decides on 9th May 2017, or thereafter, that there is no basis to relist the case that was earlier struck out.

Also, looking ahead to the possible implication if the judgment goes in favour of the Giwa faction, one wonders what effect such judgment would have on the ban imposed on Giwa and others. Earlier this month, FIFA announced a worldwide extension of the five-year ban imposed on Chris Giwa and four others (including Yahaya Adama and other members of his Board).

On 12th May 2016, the NFF Disciplinary Committee banned Christopher Giwa, Muazu Suleyman, Yahaya Adama, Sani Fema and Johnson Effiong from taking part in any football activity, owing to their breaches of NFF statutes and FIFA Code of Ethics (the charges included taking football matters to court).

Apparently, that would take us back to the cycle of imminent FIFA sanction on NFF for judicial interference.

FIFA Upholds Ban on Giwa & 4 Others

FIFA has today announced that it has upheld the five-year ban earlier imposed on Chris Giwa, Muazu Suleyman, Yahaya Adama, Sani Fema and Johnson Effiong by the Disciplinary Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The implication is that the ban will now have a worldwide effect.

Similarly, CAF had last year written a letter to the NFF (dated May 27th 2016, signed by its General Secretary, Hicham El Amrani) confirming the extension of the ban to take effect at continental level.

The five men were, on 12 May 2016, banned by the NFF Disciplinary Committee from taking part in football activities for breaches of the NFF Statutes and the FIFA Code of Ethics. The ban is fallout of the 2014 NFF elections and the ensuing NFF leadership battle between Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick, with the board  of the latter being accorded recognition by FIFA.

Based on this latest development, it remains to be seen how Mr. Giwa can effectively assume leadership of the NFF or be recognized by FIFA, even if he wins the case in court. The Giwa and Pinnick rival factions are still in court over the validity of the 2014 NFF elections.

Poll Result Encourages Public-Private Ownership of Football Clubs in Nigeria

In a Twitter poll conducted by @FootbalIssuesNG on ‘Government Ownership of Football Clubs in Nigeria’, majority of participants were in favour of a system of Public-Private Partnership for ownership of football clubs in the country.

56% of the 144 participants voted in favour of Public-Private Partnership, 39% voted for government to hands off ownership of football clubs completely, while 6% voted for government of limit itself to ownership of amateur clubs only.

The current trend in Nigeria is one where most professional football clubs are owned by various state governments, with some owning more than one. In the elite football league – the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), 16 of the 20 participating clubs (representing 80%) are owned by state governments.

One thing we can take away from the poll is that given government’s stated aim of using football for the objectives of youth development; if perhaps government is unwilling to completely hands off football, in terms of ownership and control, government could still achieve its socio-political objectives by retaining part-ownership while leaving control/management of the club to the private sector.

Public-Private Partnership has, in Nigeria and indeed Africa, recorded some level of success in the areas such as infrastructure, tourism and transport. Perhaps it is worth considering for football, particularly given the crucial role government currently plays in football funding and infrastructure.

See some of the opinions below:

Delta State to Fund 6 Football Clubs: The Way Government sees Things

 

For the second consecutive season, 20% of the clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will be privately-owned. Last season’s quartet comprised of Giwa, Ifeanyi Ubah, Ikorodu United and MFM; but with Giwa’s expulsion and Ikorodu United’s relegation, two other privately-owned clubs, ABS and Remo Stars, have gained promotion to the top-flight. In this era of calls for government to leave the running of professional football clubs to the private sector, the fact that up to four of the 20 teams in the NPFL are privately-owned represents an improvement from the recent past.

The government of Delta State made headlines recently with reports it had increased its number of clubs to six ahead of the new season. Unsurprisingly, the decision was made even more controversial by the fact that its flagship club, Warri Wolves had just been relegated amid complaints of poor funding and indebtedness to players. How then can a government that seemed unable to adequately fund one club suddenly decide to fund six? One would have expected Delta State to learn from the Rivers State example – where the government merged two hitherto struggling clubs (Dolphins and Sharks) to form Rivers United, which finished the season as runner-up and qualified for the CAF Champions League.

However, it is interesting to note the reaction of the Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission, Tony Okowa to the controversy. He was quoted by The Guardian as saying that: “The way government sees things is quite different from the ordinary man on the street”, and that government “took so many things into consideration before arriving at the decision to get two new slots for Ika Rangers and Isoko United in the Nationwide League”. He expressed the view that the clubs will serve as avenue for youths in the different parts of the state to showcase their football talents.

At the beginning of the 2015/2016 season, the government acquired two new clubs – Delta Stars and Delta Force – in addition to Warri Wolves and the female team Delta Queens. Thus, the latest addition of Ika Rangers and Isoko United takes the number to six. With the six clubs spread across the three senatorial districts of the state, it is apparent that the aim is to give wide-spread football opportunity to the youths of the state.

Even though one would be reluctant to fault this socio-political objective, there are reservations about its sustainability. For instance, the same Delta Force that was revived by the current administration had been disbanded by the former. Thus, it is not improbable that a subsequent administration could see the funding of six football clubs as more of a liability. In fact, the short-term thinking in the decision to fund six clubs is evident in Mr Okowa’s further statements that: “Both Warri Wolves and Delta Force, who are in the Nigeria National League (NNL), will continue their battle for promotion to the elite division, and we expect the three clubs in the Nationwide League, Delta Stars, Ika Rangers and Isoko United to battle for promotion to the NNL. If that happens, then, government will decide on what to do with them, either to sell them or retain them. But for now, the clubs will serve as avenue for youths in Delta North, Delta Central and Delta South to showcase their football talent.”

Another interesting fact is that the financial burden may not be as heavy as first thought. According to Mr. Okowa, the budget for Warri Wolves alone last season (before the club was relegated from the NPFL) was N300 million; whereas the budget for all six clubs, including Warri Wolves, is about N277 million.

With the number of stadia that are currently underutilized across Delta State, creating a platform for youth to develop and showcase their football talent is not a bad idea, particularly if the ambition of the clubs does not go beyond that of developmental teams. Nonetheless, questions abound as to the sustainability of the initiative, particularly where teams gain promotion towards the elite league. There are also sporting integrity questions to be answered under the club licensing system if teams owned by the same entity are presented to participate in the same competition. In addition, there is no forgetting the issue of outstanding debts owed by Warri Wolves. These are some of the issues the Delta State government must resolve.

 

 

Now that FIFA has dissolved its Anti-Racism Task Force

 

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has come under a lot of criticism lately, due to its decision to dissolve its Anti-Racism Task Force. The decision has been described as “shameful”, “a betrayal”, etc. by anti-racism campaigners, football stakeholders, players and even people associated with the task force. The criticism stems from the perception that the move indicates and abandonment by FIFA of the fight against racism. However, the FIFA General Secretary has sought to clarify that the taskforce had a specific mandate which it has fully fulfilled and its recommendations are being acted upon.

Perhaps FIFA could have dissolved the task force with more finesse, such as adequately publicising the full extent of its implementation of the task force’s recommendations or its next line of action in the fight against racism. For instance, as part of the implementation of the task force’s recommendations, last year FIFA launched a new system of the use of “match observers” to observe and report on incidents of racism and discrimination ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifier matches. The observers’ mandate is to look out for racism-related incidents and report them to FIFA, which will then take disciplinary action.

Of course, one agrees with Mr. Osasu Obayiuwana, a member of the task force, that the problem of racism in football remains a burning issue, which needs continuous attention. However, from my chat with Lolia Tom-George of sportssin.blogspot.com.ng, one also agrees that the problem of racism is largely a European/UEFA problem. Indeed, racism does not emanate from other Confederations the way is does under UEFA; so, perhaps UEFA should step up and be the avant-garde in the fight against racism. This is not to downplay the fact that racism has a global impact or the responsibility of FIFA as the world football governing body. Indeed, racism in one corner generally undermines the basic tenets of equality and social justice which are fundamental to the global game of football.

The point however is simple – while FIFA must not relent in its fight against racism, UEFA should acknowledge itself as the neighbour who breeds the nuisance and therefore having a major responsibility to tackle this vice of racism that is a scourge on the global game.

Calm Down, Rangers are not yet Champions.

One can understand the excitement over the imminent end to the three-decade wait for a trophy that Rangers International – one of the historical clubs in the Nigerian league – has had to endure. Their 2-1 away win at Ikorodu United coupled with Rivers United being held at home to a goalless draw by Abia Warriors has placed the Flying Antelopes (as Rangers are fondly called) on the verge of league victory for the first time since 1984.

However, even though many media outlets, pundits, fans and even players have declared Rangers as winners of the current NPFL season, the truth is that they not just have to wait, but need to stay focused and avoid an upset in their final match, in order to actually become champions. With just one matchday left in the NPFL, Rangers (60 points) are 3 points ahead of nearest rivals, Rivers United (who are another success story of the merger of two struggling clubs); with FC Ifeanyiubah 4 points adrift with 56 points. It is therefore a two-horse race for the league title.

Official League Table; courtesy @LMCNPFL

So, it turns out that Rangers would have to lose at home to El-Kanemi Warriors (Rangers have not lost a home game this season; El-Kanemi are yet to record an away win this season), while Rivers United would need a win away from home at Akwa United. On top of this, Rangers would have to lose a 4-goal-difference advantage (e.g. Rangers losing 1-0 and Rivers winning 4-0). Where clubs have equal points, the League Rules (Rule A3) reckon with goal-difference, and then goals scored, ahead of the ‘head-to-head rule’. However, Rangers are superior to Rivers United on all counts.

Admittedly, unless all the elements one can think of conspire against Rangers, they should be confirmed as league champions on the final matchday, this Sunday (2nd October 2016); but there is still a game to play and at least a point to be earned to secure the title.

Understandably, there is hardly any doubt that this is Rangers season. The mathematical permutations here are taking nothing away from the beautiful brand of football, the free-flow of goals (Rangers tally of 49 goals so far is at least 5 goals more than any other team in the league this season), the charisma and vibrancy of their coaching and team management crew, which have all the hallmarks of worthy champions. Indeed, since the last title win in 1984 with a vintage squad, the current crop of players and officials at Rangers appear to be bringing the glory days back to the club and the ‘Cathedral’ (as the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium – home of Rangers – has been rechristened lately) now boasts of  captivating and memorable matchday experiences, as captured by China “Ikwerreman” Acheru.

Even in the course of winding up this piece, it becomes increasingly clear that there is hardly anything that will stop a coronation service from taking place at the Cathedral this Sunday. So, barring any bizarre set of circumstances, be sure to watch out for the thunderous chants of “Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Enugu Rangers, another Champion!” which is set to again be a hallmark of the league in the league in the coming years and hopefully in the CAF Champions League next season.

Jos Hosts Crucial Triple-Header on Monday

 

In the build up to any high-profile football match, it is typical to see fans and spectators trooping towards the stadium and focus shifting to match ahead of kick-off. Come Monday, 26th September, 2016, Nigerian football focus will be on the city of Jos for a crucial 9:00am kick off in an unprecedented triple-header. The venue is not the Rwang Pam Stadium; rather it will be the Jos Division of the Court of Appeal.

The assigned Justices of the Court of Appeal shall be the umpires in three football cases listed for hearing on the day. The cases involve the Mr. Chris Giwa-led faction (seeking to lay claim to the mantle of leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation) and the NFF led by Mr. Amaju Pinnick; as well as a couple of cases stemming from the case filed by Mr. Mustapha Abubakar on behalf of Giwa FC, challenging the decision of  the League Management Company to expel Giwa FC for failing to honour three matches as stipulated in the League Rules. In recent years, Nigerian football has been embroiled in legal disputes, but never before have three cases, with the possibility of severe consequences on the administration of the sport, come up on the same day, before the same court at the same location.

So, why is Jos suddenly the host city of modern Nigerian football crisis? Also, why are the High Courts in Jos quick to interfere with sports administration by issuing injunctions and ex-parte orders? There is no disputing the role of courts as a sanctuary for justice; but the issue is not just about whether or not there is a valid grievance. The focal point is the procedure being adopted to seek redress – whether it is a sustainable means for the development of the sport.

It is common knowledge that the globally accepted norms and regulations governing football prohibit the taking of football dispute to ordinary courts of law. The point has often been stressed that this principle is not to deny an aggrieved party access to justice, but to deliver justice in a forum that promotes the speedy, amicable and specialist resolution of whatever sporting dispute there may be. Football administration worldwide favours arbitration and other internal mechanisms, which better serve these purposes.

The ripple effect of the current state of affairs where any aggrieved person can simply approach a court and obtain an injunction to stifle the administration of a professional sport is clearly being felt. It is high time our courts acknowledged the need for a sustainable reaction to sports disputes in Nigeria. This includes the acknowledgement of the peculiar nature of sports administration and the specificity of sport. Two examples of the global standard of sports jurisprudence, from which our courts can learn are illustrated in the decisions of the Court of Appeal of Paris, France and the Federal Court in Switzerland, briefly highlighted below.

In 1998, Laurent Piau filed a complaint against the FIFA Players’ Agents Regulations. The dispute eventually reached the Paris Court of Appeal, which in arriving at its decision to reject the appeal stated that sports organizations know the specific nature of each sport and are in the best position to apply the regulations to meet the objectives and to protect the ethics of the sport. While this is a pointer as to why football matters and disputes should be left to the internal specialist mechanisms, one wonders what would have been if a court had restrained the implementation of the FIFA Players’ Agents Regulations for the whole of the 18 years it took for the case to reach this decision.

Another example is the Swiss Federal Court, which refused to issue a preliminary injunction that would have allowed Russian athletes to compete at the recently concluded Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. In a further appeal against the International Paralympic Committee’s decision to ban Russian athletes from the Games for state-sponsored doping, the Russian Paralympic Committee’s request for an injunction was rejected on the ground that the interest of the sport governing body in fighting doping and in the integrity of the sport ordinarily outweighed the interest of the Russian Paralympic Federation in an immediate lifting of the suspension. What readily comes to mind is how the interest of a single supporter (or even a single club) will outweigh the interest of a governing body in implementing the regulations to preserve the integrity of competition, or the interest of all other participating clubs, players, supporters or even sponsors, etc., to the extent of issuing injunctions or orders to interfere with or even stop a professional league from running.

It will be apt to summarize by borrowing from the words of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. According to Abdulhakeem Mustapha (SAN) in a recently published interview, the series of court cases on football matters will cripple the sport, if not checked. He advocated for the resolution of football disputes via the internal mechanisms, as is done in other parts of the world. By this, a preliminary check that a court should make when approached with a football matter, is to confirm whether or not the aggrieved party has explored the internal dispute resolution mechanisms. A party that has failed to resort the internal mechanisms is then usually referred back to the sports dispute resolution mechanism. This will certainly serve to prevent the opening of floodgates to endless law suits that will only serve to cripple the administration and development of football in Nigeria.

South-West Derby: May the True Stars Shine Today

 

The star match of match-day 29 in the NPFL is undoubtedly the oriental derby between Enyimba (Aba) and Rangers (Enugu), which is live on Supersport at 4pm today. Both are the most successful teams in the history of the Nigerian league, with 7 and 6 trophies respectively. Although Rangers have endured a 32-year trophy drought, this season, they are well in the hunt for the league title to equal Enyimba’s record.

Izu Joseph - 3SC
Izu Joseph (3SC)

Just below these teams in terms of trophy count is Shooting Stars (Ibadan), with 5 titles. Their South-West derby with Sunshine Stars (Akure) also comes up today and the main talking point is neither Shooting Stars’ relegation battle nor Sunshine Stars’ outside chance for the league title. Rather, it is the enmity that has been a feature of recent encounters between both teams. Football derbies are often the opposite of good neighborliness, so one would hardly expect this derby of Stars to be much different.

Recent encounters between both teams have witnessed it all – the good, the bad and the dirty. Late winners, red cards, pushing of the ball boy, volatile home crowd, heavy fines etc. and the first leg this season was no exception. Certainly, increased security and logistics efforts have been made to ensure a successful prosecution of the match.

Okiki Afolabi - Sunshine Stars
Okiki Afolabi (Sunshine Stars)

 

One hopes that this derby will serve less of off-field controversy and allow the true stars come out to shine. There is a lot of on-field action and stories to look forward to. While Coach Gbenga Ogunbote will look to continue the resurgence Shooting Stars have witnessed under him, the likes of Okiki Afolabi (currently second on the League goal scorers chart with 13 goals) will look to lift his side again as he scored a late winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.