There is conspicuous anxiety in the air among Kwara United followers as the state darling team is within touching distance of qualifying for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
This time last year, the feeling among fans of the club was similar until a defeat at home to Gombe United truncated Kwara United’s ambition. Within 10 minutes of their match against the Savannah Scorpion at the Kwara State Stadium, Kwara United were left to pick the ball from the net twice. Tried as much as United players could, the match ended 2-0 in favour of the away team as Ahmed Yusuf in goal for Gombe Utd was in imperious form. That defeat turned out the albatross of the Harmony Boys as the team was left ruing the luck.
The failure of the team to gain promotion led to a barrage of criticism from football fans in the state with a group; Kwara Football Stakeholders mounting intense pressure on the state government to dissolve the management and coaching crew of the team.
Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed however made the right decision by ignoring the calls to replace Prince Thompson Oladimeji and John Obuh as Chairman and Coach of the club respectively. With impressive results on the pitch, any call for the sack of United’s management and gaffer has since been suspended, at least for now.
Now that United sits atop the Northern Conference log of the Nigeria National League (NNL), the management, technical crew and players will need to work assiduously to avert a repeat of last season’s debacle.
While former U-20 coach, Obuh relied on goals from Segun Alebiosu to win matches for United last term, it has been a certain Michael Ohanu that has been firing in on all cylinders this campaign at a time the former seemed to have suffered a dip in form.
At the moment, Ohanu is the top scorer in the NNL with 15 goals in 19 matches and his consistency in front of goal will go a long way in ensuring promotion for his team at the end of the season. The striker was in riotous form last weekend as he scored a hat-trick in the 27th, 35th and 53rd minute against Yobe Desert Warriors.
Following that 4-0 win, United has amassed 32 points (W10, D2, L4) from 16 matches with 24 goals scored and 10 conceded.
With only eight points separating United from fourth placed Sokoto Utd, Kwara United will need to gather more points both at home and on the road to confirm their promotion to the NPFL.
Jonah Usman, Solomon Owello, Segun Alebiosu, Akeem Onigbari and other members of the squad will need to keep fit and remain consistent as the job is yet to be completed. At this stage of the league in the NNL, teams are more desperate for points than in the early stage of the season.
Beyond that, the state government must provide the team with the needed support in terms of prompt payment of salaries, bonuses and allowances of the players and coaches.
Also, the fans must continue to get behind their darling team whether at home or away from home. Like Shooting Stars and Liverpool supporters, Kwara United fans must travel with their team always even if they are to play in the Sahara Desert.
Having come this far, promotion to the NPFL for Kwara United is non-negotiable. Hopeful ABS will retain their elite division status and football faithful in the state will have the treat of watching top-flight football every weekend.