It was pathetic watching my darling team, Stationery Stores FC of Lagos at the Onikan Stadium yesterday. Not because we lost the initiative to the visitors, Gabros International FC of Nnewi in the second half, no. My despair was in the fact that, if I wanted to count the number of spectators present in the entire stadium, it would have taken me less than 30 seconds to accomplish. Yet this is Onikan, our fortress ! This is the same venue where, only a few months ago, the VIP section was filled to the brim, week in, week out !
I sat there pontificating on what could be the problem: It was a very cool and rain-free Sunday afternoon and Lagos roads were practically empty. Could it then be the fact that our dear flaming flamingoes occupied a position closer to the bottom of the league table? Or was it the frequent chopping of players that has made the team still unrecognizable, even after over 10 games?
None of the possible excuses even made a modicum of sense to me. This is Super Stores; our darling team, afterall.
My attention was then drawn to the small band of supporters hanging close to the perimeter fence and constantly reminding the Gabros bench that they “must pay today” for denying Stores a deserved victory in the first round fixture. That was when my enthusiasm was restored. I pay homage today to this humble group (see picture above), not the richest of men, but truly the soul of Stationery Stores.
FANTASTIC GABROS DOWNED 1-2
Gabros played a fantastic game even with one man short in the second half, but the Adebajo Babes dug deep to win the game by 2 goals to 1 and cart away the 3 points at stake.
Interestingly, Stores started the game as if we were going to roast Gabros to ashes. A splendid corner kick in the opening minutes by Obinna was met with a bullet header by Nnamdi Uche for Stores’ first goal. Then we conceded the equalizer through an own goal, before immediately restoring the lead through Fuad’s well taken penalty kick after a very careless rough play by the Gabros defence.
Gabros’ Chinonso Ezuokeaba was deservedly shown the red card early in the 2nd half for whacking Ibrahim Idris flat on the face with his boot. Shockingly, what should have been a sure blessing for Stores turned into sheer horror as Gabros (with 10 men) completely seized the initiative, dominating the game and forcing Stores to fall back and soak the pressure till the end.
New coach Loveday Omoruyi deployed playmaker Obinna Emmanuel in an unfamiliar right wing position, and it was surprising he stuck with the player who glaringly struggled to find his feet throughout the second half. Fuad scored the winning penalty but spent the rest of the game either being hacked down by Gabros’ defenders or complaining about same to the referee.
In the end, Nnamdi Uche’s’s opening minute goal proved a very valuable asset in securing the three points for Stores, and for that I give him the Man of the Match award.
STORES’ PLAYER RATINGS