The General Coordinator of the
Nigeria’s first pre-season tournament, Tunde Shamsudeen has revealed that ABS Ilorin FC started training for the new season few days before the competition and no one would ever thought they will emerge champions.
In an interview with the Sportspro News correspodent, Shamsudeen noted that against all odds, the pre-season spectacle has continue to grow from strength to strength; making it a brand to reckon with in the football industry.
“Looking at the pedigree of the tourney, it is not just prestigious but a brand in our domestic football and that’s why we are Nigeria’s first pre-season tournament”
“We are just done with the 8th edition and didn’t lack quality and standard when you look at the teams that participated in it over the years” former Osun United Media handler added.
Ogunjobi Gold cup was formally launched for clubs in the three tier leagues of Nigeria namely Nigeria Professional Football League, Nigeria National League and Nationwide League One.
Interestingly,no team since the first edition of the tournament has been able to defend the trophy. This, could be a pointer to the fact that it has always been competitive and challenging for all the participants.
For records, The most glamorous tourney started in 2013 with Sunshine Stars FC winning the maiden edition. And as the defunct Sharks FC clinched the second edition, Kano Pillars and Lobi Stars FC won the third and fourth outing respectively
Kano Pillars were able to win the fifth edition the second time in three years while Sunshine Stars FC ,Niger Tornadoes went ahead to hauled the gold medals in the sixth and seventh edition.
However, It was intriguing to see ABS Ilorin FC winning the just concluded edition under their new gaffer, Anthony Encho. The team which was dominated by young players showed high level of determination as they came from two goals down in the final to defeat the relatively physical Gombe United 3 goals to 2.
” I never thought ABS will qualify from the group going by the fact that they just resumed few days before the tournament.
Sincerely, they’re the most underrated team and I never believed they will win the tourney”, The former soccer star newspaper writer reflected.
Apparently staged for ten days, with over three hundred players taking part and twenty three matches on the fixtures, the absence of some big teams in this year’s edition didn’t really pose any threat to the ideals, values and standard of the tournament.
“Threats? Nope!(sic) This tournament remain the best organized in the country and that is the reason why we have no fewer than 16 partners; namely, TJO Foundation, Bet9ja GreatDynamic Talent, Owu Sportswear, KAO Concept, Haggai Sportswear, Sportspro News, Play Sportswear, House of Prayer FA, Olansile FA, 11th Media Global Concept, Grande Sports, Phreestyle Sports, Dejavu Communication, Abraysports FC, Matchroom Sports, and Naija League”.
Explaining why some teams pulled out of participation, he said; ” it was because of the initial date postponment as a result of the Kwara State Government declaration of 24-hour curfew on the state owing to the spate of violence and criminality that trailed the End SARS protests in the state capital where some public facilities were looted by hoodlums”.
As the first and one of the few pre-season tournament being organized by private individuals in the country, it has so far served as a platform for teams to blend thier squads together ahead of new football seasons.
“All clubs that participated in the tournament year in, year out have always done so well in the league season proper. The positive is not always to win the tourney but is an avenue for the clubs to perfect corrections before the season commences. Shamsudeen quipped.
Even with low budget, Gold cup was able to set yet another standard with new initiatives geared towards making it adventurous for participants and football enthusiasts. How?
The co-ordinator claimed that no fewer than ten of the matches was on the betting sites.This, according attest to the fact that they are a big brand as far as pre-season tournaments is concerned.
Giving the fact technology has come to ease our ways of living and engagements, the organizer also leveraged on the 21st century trend to improve the packages of the tourney as all matches were live- streamed from the Kwara State Sports Complex, Ilorin with Sportflames radio dishing out commentary, Grande sports were doing the best of live video broadcast couple with a massive blown social media drive.
Another unique feature of the tournament which distinguishes it is the flexibility of the hosting stadia. From 2013 till date, Otunba Dipo Dina international stadium, Ijebu Ode has played host four times,Kwara state stadium complex ,three times while Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado-Ekiti and Ondo State Sports Complex, Akure had co-hosted it once.
Challenges and optimism
“Major bane as been finance. We have a very low financial strength and we’re optimistic that before the next edition we must have gotten a major sponsor”.
Revealing that the next edition will be staged at Pantami Stadium in Gombe state, he assured they will continue to work hard to achieve the best of their dreams.