By: Kelvin Omachonu
The University of Ibadan football team, the Pioneers suffered yet another defeat last week when they fell 1-0 to Statistics in the quarter-finals of the Oyo State Tertiary Institutions Football Competition. Prior to that result, UI had to work their socks off before they could get a 1-0 win against MOOR/Animal Science- a game that they dominated from start to finish. Against Statistics, the same situation ensued. The Pioneers did the bulk of the playing but they did not offer anything in attack. The midfield was disconnected, the frontline was toothless, and it seemed as though they went into the game with the hope that they could get a lucky opportunity.
Unfortunately for Coach Eduviere Allen and his lads, they were not so lucky on the afternoon, as they paid for their disjointed play after Statistics put the game to bed with a goal from the penalty spot. UI’s ouster from the Oyo State Tertiary Institutions Football Competition was not the first time they would be knocked out of competition. In fact, in the last four years, Pioneers have failed to provide any form of joy.
The team has continued to record losses in the Higher Institutions Football League (HIFL) and Nigeria University Games (NUGA). And it begs the question, is it not time to tweak something? UI players have always complained about the lack of support from the school. Some of them have complained about meager allowances. In fact, too many, UI’s best legs are not on the school team because of the lack of incentives.
Away from the management, when you juxtapose the quality of UI’s team with some of the institutions they have lost to, one would feel that they could be doing better. In their loss to Statistics, the Pioneers bossed the possession and looked like the better side. Nonetheless, they were unable to forge solid attacks.
A similar thing happened in their first game against MOOR/Animal Science. UI was clearly the better team, but their lack of coordination in the final third was very visible, and that could be down to the tactical approach from the coach. It is understandable when a coach fails to perform when he does not have adequate materials to prepare for games.
However, when the coach has a decent team, but he fails to improve the team and input his ideas into his players, he has to be questioned. Some of Coach Allen’s present and past players believe that he is more of a fitness coach. And that point cannot be argued because he drills his players properly with grueling training routines.
However, he has a very slow reaction to game situations. Coach Allen hardly calls on his bench when results are not going his way. Even when he makes changes, they hardly affect the game. Also, his team selections have often come under scrutiny. Coach Allen occasionally plays his lads out of position and of course, most would struggle to fit into their new roles.
The lack of bite in the attack has been a problem for years, but it lingers year after year, not because of the unavailability of quality, but because the coach has been unable to find a lasting solution. The only inevitable thing in life is change. When an employee is not delivering in his position, he would be sent packing. The Pioneers have been consistently poor year after year. Perhaps, it just might be the right time for Coach Allen to take a walk.