By Kelvin Obambon
As the 2020/2021 Nigeria National League season enters match day two, Ex Rovers Players Association has pledged total support to the current management of Rovers Football Club, to enable it take the team back to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
The former football stars made the pledge when the management of Rovers FC led by the Chairman, Mr Ejen Ebam, paid a courtesy visit on members of the Association in Calabar South on Wednesday 17th February, 2021.
President of the Association, Mr Edem Ephraim, gave kudos to the management, while pledging that the ex players would give the Club the needed support to ginger the players and technical crew to win their home matches.
Rovers Chairman who thanked the ex players for the support so far given to the Club’s management, intimated that the visit was to update them with latest happenings in the team, especially the terrible treatment meted out on Rovers in their first away match against Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan, which was played in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State. He said the host did not give the visitors access to the stadium for adequate pre-match warm up.
Narrating further, Ebam said that the match actually took place on Sunday 14th February and that Rovers players and officials had arrived the venue at 2pm but were locked out until 3pm when 3SC and the match officials came. This, he said, coupled with the bias officiating, impacted negatively on the moral of players, resulting in their losing the match 3-0 in favour of the home side. He also told the former players that Rovers were unjustly denied a goal by the referees.
The Club chief therefore appealed to members of the Association to support the team by coming out on Saturday 20th February to boost the players moral, when they will play their first home game against Delta Force FC.
Responding to some of the issues raised by the ex players, Ebam said the management has vigorously pursued the ideals of unity which it believes to be the fulcrum upon which the success of Rovers revolves. He equally stressed that Rovers, under the current management, leverage on inclusive governance, where every stakeholder is consulted on important areas such as recruitment of players, technical crew and other matters that may require extensive deliberation.
He, however, decried the lack of support from some players groomed by the club, who are now making it big. He said despite the financial predicaments facing the club, players and officials were redoubling their efforts toward ensuring that the team secure promotion.
On the observed lapses in Rovers’ central defense, the Chairman assured them that work on the central defense was ongoing and that come Saturday, there would be an improvement.
Speaking earlier, the Secretary of the Association, Hon. Edem Ekpo, thanked the management and gave the assurance that Rovers would have all the necessary support to enable them win their home matches.
High point of the visit was the presentation of 30 branded jerseys to the ex players.
Meanwhile, in a related development, Rovers management have also paid a courtesy visit on the executive of Cross River Supporters Club at the U.J. Esuene Stadium Calabar, to seek for support ahead of the team’s home match on Saturday.
Receiving the Chairman of Rovers Football Club, Mr Ejen Ebam and other officials, President of the Supporters Club, Mr Asuquo Effiong, apealed to Rovers to carry everyone along and be prayerful, pointing out that football has so much evolved that winning a game now requires physical and Spiritual alertness. He expressed optimism that Rovers would win it home match on Saturday.
Also speaking, Secretary of the Supporters Club, Mr Okon Otu-akan, thanked the Chairman for finding time to meet with them to deliberate and strategize on how to secure victory for Rovers in their matches, especially the home fixtures. He sued for cooperation among all football stakeholders in the state to ensure that Rovers secure promotion to the NPFL.
In his remarks, the Commissioner in-charge of Sports Development in the Cross River State Sports Commission, Hon. Ekanem Ekpenyong, expressed happiness that the management was being proactive by bringing together relevant stakeholders to ensure the team’s victory.
He said that for Rovers to strike fear in the minds of teams who would be coming to play in Calabar, it must secure an emphatic win.
While emphasizing on team work, Ekpenyong advised Rovers to be tactical and coordinated when approaching the game on Saturday.
Another set of branded jerseys were also presented to members of the Supporters Club.