It is no more news that the romance between Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan and Coach Franklin Howard has ended with the sack of the latter. The General Manager of the Oluyole Warriors, Rasheed Balogun, has come out to shed more light on why the club parted ways with the gaffer.
To many, the sweat merchant might have lost his job due to the team’s poor start to the 2014/15 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season. In contrast, there are other factors that led to the exit of the former Union Bank of Lagos tactician.
In this chat with Tosin Omojola, Balogun speaks on this and many other issues regarding the club, declaring that the Ibadan soccer lords are not even thinking about being relegated at the end of the season. Excerpts
Lobi Stars’ protest on the use of Ajani Ibrahim
As far as I am concerned, I don’t know the basis of Lobi Stars’ protest. The club said we erred by using Ajani Ibrahim, claiming that he was not eligible to feature for us. Well I don’t know how they came about that.
This was confirmed by the decision of the league organising body which threw out the protest as soon as the case came up in Abuja.
The issue we had concerning Ajani was the demand by his former club that we should pay an outrageous amount which we faulted but for now as I speak to you, he is free to play for 3SC.
Why Howard was sacked
I have heard and read about comments being made by Franklin Howard that I unjustifiably sacked him but God is my witness his sack was not only as a result of the unconvincing performance of the team but because supporters and fans of the club were not comfortable with him as the head coach of the club.
On so many occasions, I I was confronted by some of these supporters and fans who kept asking me why we have failed to sack him and bring in a new coach but I used to appeal to them to exercise patience and give the team more time to get its bearing.
However, what happened after our home match against Rangers which ended 1-1 forced the management to take the decision to let him go.
After the encounter, some angry fans threatened to deal with the coach and they were hell bent on attacking him. It was while he was been trailed that I ordered some of our officials to protect him before I called on the security men around to ensure that he was not touched.
Now, with that, do you expect us to wait until he is maimed before we take a decision that will save his life?
Howard and the club’s properties
I will tell you here that the coach has refused to hand over all the properties of the club in his possession.
As we speak, he is still holding onto the club’s official car and he has also refused to vacate his official residence.
We are still giving him sometime before we know what to do as far as the issues of the club’s properties in his possession are concerned.
On coach Gbenga Ogunbote
I am very happy that supporters and fans of 3SC welcome the choice of Gbenga Ogunbote as Howard’s replacement and I am particularly happy that we have been justified with the results the team got in its first two matches under the tutelage of the coach. With the performance of the team against Lobi Stars and Bayelsa United, everybody can now see the difference. The new coach has been able to bring a new lease of life into the team and the supporters and fans are now happy again.
It is one thing for you to change a coach and it is another thing entirely for you to get a better replacement and that is what we have done as the results have so far shown.
Although we started on a not too good note, we are gradually getting back to the winning ways and we are now on course to achieving our set target for the season.
With the new found rhythm, we are looking forward to a glorious end in the season and what I mean by that is that at the end of the season, our fans will have something to cheer about.
This is one word I don’t want people to link the team with. 3SC is not a candidate for relegation. Let me state specifically that it is not in our thinking at all.
Ever since I have been into football administration, I have never led a club to relegation.
By the grace of God II have a good record of taking teams from the lower division to the top division and as far as 3SC is concerned, it will never happen, count us out of relegation.
Message to the club’s followers
Let me first and foremost thank them for their unflinching support to the team. Since I joined this club, I have seen the commitment and the loyalty of the fans to the club. The passion and the love and that is how it is supposed to be because those are the things needed to lift a club and keep it going.
Even when the beginning was tough, when we lost our first home game and drew against Rangers, they did not abandon us but only made their stand on the way forward known to us.
I think they deserve kudos for this.
I still want to appeal to them to keep faith in the team. With what is happening now, to which they can also bear witness, I am sure that 3SC will get something good at the end of the season.
All we need is their support through prayers and patience. As they can see, we are now trying to stabilize,, to get the players in the right frame of mind and we are taking it one step after the other. So they should keep giving the management, the coaches and the players the needed support so together we can steer the team back to its rightful place not only in Nigeria but on the continent also.