Threat to the lives of VFC officials, harassment, destruction of VFC TV equipment, and intimidation of referees was the order of the day, as a controversial penalty provided a late winner for Osun United on Saturday afternoon in NNL Week Four.
Inspite of Nigerian Football Federation and Presidential Task Force on COVID 19 regulations, the stadium witnessed the influx of a large crowd of home spectators, who were admitted after purchasing tickets for the game (another violation of NFF rules).
The game finally got underway at exactly 16:00 GMT +1 Hrs and the VFC squad refused to be intimidated, with full back David Mark opening scoring for Vandrezzer FC with a well taken freekick in the 19th minute, thirty five meters away from goal.
The Lions, battered with series of hard tackles, combined with their lovely team work from the back line and midfield, and some attempts at goal, however, held on to the lead until halftime.
There was drama at halftime as the vexed home fans who had now tripled in number, crowded the pitch exit to threaten the referees and stop VFC players from leaving the pitch to the dressing room.
After a protracted attempt at abating the situation, access was eventually secured for the officials, with the threats and shouts of intimidation echoing around the stadium.
The attention of the irate fans and Osun match officials shifted to the VFC TV media crew, who were manhandled and also had their lives threatened if they continued with broadcast of the game. Eventually the hoodlums destroyed the wires of all VFC equipment, forcing the LIVE broadcast to be truncated. Phones of the crew were also snatched, to prevent further recording of their disruptive activities. The snatching of their phones and threats contributed to the lack of updates on VFC social media platforms throughout the period they were attacked, until they were safely out of the stadium.
VFC TV managed to get a feed from one of the cameras, soon after kick off of the second half which started ten minutes late. Unfortunately, no commentaries could be run due to the vandalization of the transmission cables by the irate fans of Osun United. Just as the Lions were being berated with hard tackles, and the referees looked the other way; Udom Ekerete’s height became an infraction with the referees, as anytime he headed out an area ball, it was called out as a foul. Amidst the tension in the stadium, Adio Monsuru would go on to equalize for the home team with a snap shot in the 55th minute, while in the 83rd minute, centre referee Wale Ogundiran awarded a controversial penalty, insisting that Ipaye Jr had brought down Osun United captain Olalere Hakeem, who stepped up to slot it past VFC goalkeeper Segun Alabi.
Alabi who was making his debut for Vandrezzer FC this season in the absence of suspended Edwin Nwakamma had displayed some outstanding goalkeeping skills throughout the game.
The Lions indeed had a decent game, until the second half came with all its vices, on and off the pitch.
Full Time Stats
Scoreline 2 : 1
Goal Attempts: 11 : 7
Shots on Target: 5 : 4
Shots off Target: 5 : 3
Corner Kicks: 5 : 2
Fouls: 12 : 24
Yellow Cards: 2 : 3
Saves: 1 : 3
Free Kicks: 26 : 12
Offsides: 0 : 1
Penalty: 1 : 0
While the gallant VFC players and crew managed to find their way out after a protracted delay, our customary post match interviews could not take place as a result of the pitch invasion by Osun United fans and lack of proper security.
The game was marred by fans restiveness, threat to lives, hooliganism, intimidation, non-compliance with Presidential Task Force COVID 19 and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines and lack of proper security provision by the home Football Association. The match officials surrendered the game to the home team in order to leave the stadium unhurt, while our broadcast on VFC TV was also cut short following threat to their lives by the hoodlums who possessed dangerous weapons including knives, which they eventually used to destroy our transmission cables, and The hoodlums also switched off the generating set used to power the media equipment.The entire scenario at the stadium was clearly premeditated and executed with a predetermined goal.
Nigerian football cannot remain in the doldrums; the NFF and NNL must act now to save the league!