By Sab Osuji in Ilorin:
ABS Ilorin FC have gained promotion back to the Nigeria Professional Football League after three seasons in the second-tier Nigerian National League after walking over Gateway United of Abeokuta in a match day 14 fixture on Sunday, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Gateway were top on the Group B2 going into Sunday’s final day games on goal difference as they were tied on 21 points but the Olumo Rock City side enjoyed superior goal advantage of plus six against ABS Ilorin’s plus five.
But the expected clash of the top teams could not hold as the visiting side refused to play, citing security lapses.
After the mandatory 30-minute wait, centre referee Hamza Garba from Kano sounded his whistle, confirming a walkover for the Harmony Warriors.
“I’m delighted we’ve technically won the game as stipulated by the rules”, a delighted Henry Makinwa, ABS Ilorin coach, told Completesportsnigeria.com at the Kwara State Stadium, Ilorin on Sunday.
“I don’t know why they (Gateway United) refused to play. They were right there in the stadium but what justifiable reason they can have for not playing is beyond me and beyond reasoning.
“If security is their reason, I think they got it wro6n. There were enough policemen here, about 50-60 of them so why should they not play?
“At worst, they could have played under protest but as it is right now, I can say congratulations to my team for making it possible for us to get promoted back into the Nigeria Professional Football League.”
However, Ogun State leader of delegation and commissioner for Spirts, Afolabi Afuape, told Completesportsnigeria.com that he valued the lives of his players much more than the three points and a possible promotion to the NPFL.
“Under the circumstances, we could not get on with the game because jeopardizing the lives of our playets would have been a risk worth not taking,” Afuape said.
“Yes, we could have played under protest but like I said, it is more important to be alive and play tomorrow than putting the lives of these young players in danger.”
Nigeria Football Federation executive committee member and chairman of referees committee Ahmed Fresh was at the match venue.