NPFL punishment: Our players didn’t abandon match vs Rangers – Enyimba mgt

Following the decision of the managers of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) to hand N10 million fine against Enyimba over the outcome of the inconclusive MatchDay 35 oriental derby, the management of the Football Club has said their players did not abandon the match.

The Sporting Director of the Aba based team, Mr Ifeanyi Ekwueme, made this known in a telephone interview.

According to him, the claims and insinuation that The People’s Elephant ‘walked out’ of the pitch during Sunday’s NPFL Matchday 35 Oriental Derby clash against Rangers was untrue.

The explosive Oriental derby which attracted a huge crowd turned ugly towards the end of the match when the referee called for a penalty.

Amidst suggestion that the Flying Antelopes front man was in an offside position before he was pulled off striking position, spectators surged onto the turf, leading to the game being overshadowed by ugly scenes.

The Sporting Director maintained that the nine-time NPFL winners did not stage any walk out during the beautiful game that was made ugly.

In trying to give a graphic illustration of what really transpired Sunday night inside The Cathedral, he said that Enyimba is a thorough professional and have never, and can never be cajoled into walking out during a match.

“Before the incident, I had severally, up to five or six times, walked up to the Match Commissioner and as well Rangers GM on the over crowded arena and surging spectators that should anything untoward happen, the situation would be difficult to control.

“Eventually when the bubble bust, our players came to the byline to receive technical instruction from their coach. I came around and having received signal from ‘Papilo’ Nwankwo Kanu, I asked the players back to the pitch but then the goalkeeper went to collect his towel in his goalpost but was met by Rangers ‘fans’ who were throwing objects at him and before you knew it, Rangers Supporters began to clash with their Enyimba counterparts.

“That was what really happened and its wrong of anyone to suggest or accuse our players of ‘walking out’ of the field thereby ‘abandoning’ the game,” he said.

The Nigerian Professional Football League organisers on Monday handed the defending champions a N10m sanction and awarded the match three points and three goals to Rangers.

They equally handed out a N5m sanction on Rangers for ‘over ticketing’, ‘inadequate security’, ‘not implementing crowd control measures’, and ‘allowing unauthorised bodies to access restricted areas’.