NPFL: Coach wants review of officiating in 2016/2017 season

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A coach in Abia Warriors FC, Ikwuakor Ogbonna, has urged the League Management Company (LMC) to conduct a comprehensive review of officiating in the just-concluded Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).

Ogbonna, who made the assertion while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Umuahia, alleged that the second stanza of the league was characterised by questionable officiating.

He described biased officiating as the bane of the nation’s professional league.

It was revealed that the nation’s top flight football is organised by LMC.

The coach said that LMC demonstrated genuine interest in repositioning the league by training referees to handle the last competition.

According to Ogbonna, the LMC started the 2016/2017 league with referees that were trained at conferences and workshops.

“The referees also started well at the inception of the league but officiating became questionable toward the end of the season across the country.

“This is one sore point that poses serious challenge to our professional league and the LMC should look into it seriously,’’ he said.

He contended that poor officiating by compromised referees was killing the competition.

“This is why many football fans in the country preferred to watch English football even when a league match is taking place at their backyard,’’ the coach said.

He urged the LMC to ensure that referees who were found wanting in the discharge of their duties during the league were adequately sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others.

Ogbonna also gave his assessment of the performance of Abia Warriors which occupied the 12th position at the end of the league, just one step away from its 13th position in the penultimate season.

He said, “The team started very well. It played up to nine matches unbeaten but the result at the end of the season was not encouraging.’’

He noted that a similar experience was recorded by the club in the 2015/2016 season.

The coach said that the onus was on the management to do a postmortem on the club’s performance with a view to tackling the shortcomings and building a dependable team next season.

The coach, however, expressed gratitude to God that the club survived relegation at the end of the league. (NAN)