Relegated: Remo Stars NPFL relegation comes as no surprise

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September 24, 2016. On the synthetic terrace of Agege Stadium, Nduka Ugbade and his players, cladded in all cerulean, jubilating frantically as the referee whistle goes. 2-0, they’ve beaten C.O.D United and they – Remo stars – have gained promotion to NPFL for the first time ever.Elation and Euphoria permeated across Ijebu Ọdẹ. That little town, that’s about to show the entire nation that it’s more than just a waypoint between the boisterous city of Lagos and the ancient city of Ibadan. It’ll host NPFL games at the Dipo Dina stadium. The owner of the Club, Kunle Soname innovated schemes and plans to lure fans into the stadium, giving away lots of gifts from packs of frozen chicken to packs of frozen fishes, and it worked. Fans gyrating at every home game.

But barely 5 games into their NPFL season, the club management and Ugbade fell out after a contractual disagreement, that signalled the beginning of the slide for the ‘Sky blues’.

In came Daniel Ogunmodede and then Fatai Oshọ, a former coach, who had done wonders with Crown FC of Ogbomosho. They expected him to replicate his Abracadabra formula here also but he couldn’t.

Lost his first game away at Akwa, started a drought of winless runs that spanned 7 games which was followed by a more detrimental 5-game losing streak. They’ve always been tourists enjoying their debut season and the luxurious trips around the country that comes with it.

Victor Mbaoma has scored 10 goals for Remo Stars this season

By Matchday 25, when all teams had played their outstanding matches against the teams with continental commitments – Rangers, Rivers, Wikki, FC Ubah – Remo Stars had settled at the bottom of the log, their hope of survival looking bleak unless they improve.Reality hit them and they responded, although faintly. An Away point in Abia was flanked on both sides by 2 consecutive home wins but then they descended back into the spineless debutants that they’ve been all season. Fell into even uglier 9-game winless streak that just had to end against Rivers United, that haven’t managed an away win this season, if they wish to keep their hopes of surviving the fall burning and there was this feeling that they would because Rivers United, their Opponents, are at their lowest ebb themselves. After an awesome 2015/16 NPFL season, which they finished second with a place on the continent but it all came crashing down as they suffer the stark contrast, struggling in the puddle of relegation. They also must win this to ease the pressure heaping around them.

It was a case of who wants it more and it was the ‘Prides of Rivers’ that scooped that chance up.

Remo Stars relegated from NPFL with four matches left to play

After spells of dominance and glimpses of last season’s emphatic performance. They had their reward. Bernard ‘Golden Boy’ Ovoke curled in free kick. The trajectory perfect and reminiscent of the reasons that earned him the sobriquet. Emeka Ogbugh doubled it in the 34th minute, Adekunle Tunde spilled a Kanoute Abdoulaye shot and Ogbugh cleaned it in nicely for the Stanley Eguma boys. The cherry was added, when Chiwendu Ali’s 35-yard ferociously hammered freekick rattles the cross bar but fall kindly for Esosa Igbinoba to stroke home. Although Ochowechi Salefu pulled one back for the host, it could only count as a consolation as Remo Stars officially slipped into the chasm of relegation.

It’s been 10 months after that Dreamy promotion, 34 NPFL games since that joyous moment in Agege and Remo Stars are going back to where they belong; NNL. All the fantastical Joy and happiness replaced with cold, hard reality.

And For the 7th season consecutively, another club from the Ódùdùwá region of country will be dropping to NNL.

Written by Shehu Idris

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