Head Coach of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) Edith Agoye says his side will allow “no margin of error” and “no excuses” in their quest to clinch qualification to the top tier of Nigerian League football.
3SC, in their second consecutive season in the second tier Nigeria National League (NNL) after suffering relegation from the topflight Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) in 2017 embark on a mission to return to the top flight when the NNL kicks off later today and Agoye believes a club the size of the Oluyole Warriors should be a mainstay in the NPFL.
“Shooting Stars is a big club in Nigeria and by and large in Africa as well, with a large fan base,” Agoye told busybuddiesng.com. “Naturally everybody understands and knows that a great club like that deserves to be playing in the elite league of its country and possibly be playing in the continent.”
“For some time now that has not happened. We understand this and we know the task ahead of us, we know what is expected of us from our numerous fans and well-wishers all over the world as well as in Nigeria. So we know we have to be very prepared because there is no room for error and we think we’ll be able to do a very good job; where we stopped last season we’ll be able to continue, we’ve reinforced we’ve improved in some areas and we believe we are ready to go.”
The experience of last season when Shooting finished top of Group B 1 in the NNL and earned qualification to the NNL Super Eight promotion/title playoffs in Aba only to fail at the final hurdle when they lost 1-0 to Bendel Insurance in the final group match still rankles.
Agoye says the “disappointment” of last season’s failed promotion push has served up some lessons which will help a “much stronger” Shooting Stars do better this time around.
“Playing in the NNL and not being able to qualify at the end of the day was an experience although a disappointing one,” Agoye said.
“We’ve taken everything that happened in Aba on board, we know where mistakes have been made, we know we didn’t cross the ‘Ts’ accurately [and] we didn’t dot the ‘Is’ on time. We’ve been able to put finishing touches into all these areas and we believe as soon as the league starts, hopefully, our players will pick immediately because there is no time, there is no margin for error.
“We believe we are much stronger this season than last season and we believe we will give our best so that this time around there would be no excuses.”
Agoye knows he is lucky to have been retained by the Oyo State government, owners of the club and to have retained the backing of the fans who are some of the most passionate and dedicated set of football fans in Nigeria. With the State government having delivered on their promise to strengthen the team and with a supportive and expectant fan base behind him, the former 3SC player says “success shall be attained this season”.
“Shooting Stars is a state-owned club and everything the State Government has promised they’ve delivered. We are happy for that, they’ve kept the team going all this while and everything we needed has been provided as at when due and the supporters as well they’ve been solidly behind us in every way and we believe with their support with the backing of the state government we believe success shall be attained.”
The journey to success for Shooting Stars who once again been drawn in Group B1 alongside Abia Comets, Bayelsa United, Osun United and Giant Brillas FC in the 2018/2019 NNL season, begins today with their season opener against Abia Comets at home in the 10,000 capacity Lekan Salami Stadium (Adamasingba) in Ibadan.
Both sides also faced off last season with Shooting securing a goalless draw away before hammering Comets 4-1 in the return fixture at the Lekan Salami in September and Agoye says today’s match is one Shooting “definitely have to win” even though he expects a much improved Abia Comets side this time around.
“Abia Comets is a traditional NNL club side; they’ve been in the league for a number of years, they understand the terrain very well, they understand how the league is played.
“Shooting Stars have been in and out of the NNL so Shooting Stars is not all that accustomed to play in the NNL. We know they will be a formidable side: we played against them last season we know how strong they are. We know this season too they must have recruited and done a lot so as to improve their team. We understand that it won’t be an easy game, we are preparing in all fronts we are preparing that definitely we have to win the game [and] we [will] give our all so that we’ll win.”