Go Round awakened to elite league realities

By Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam

There is so much work in gaining promotion to the highest division of a league but even more work in ensuring long-term residency. This is what Go Round FC have come to realize at the halfway stage of their first season in the topflight, the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Though with a game in hand the Omoku-based side are in a precarious situation as they are yet to win a game in over a month and pressure is beginning to set in. Since their last victory over Plateau United on March 22, Go Round FC have gone on to register four draws and two defeats – with three of the draws happening in front of their now anxious fans.

Against FC Ifeanyiubah on Matchday 19, Ngozi Elechi’s side had a few brilliant chances to take the lead in the first half and probably seal all three points but due to their wastefulness they could only settle for a disappointing barren draw.

“We don’t really understand what happened,” Go Round FC captain Nelson Esor told npfl.ng. “Actually we came all out with full determination to win. You can see how the first half went, we missed our chances. At least we could have scored nothing less than four goals in the first half.”

He continued: “In the game of football if you fail to utilize your chances, you don’t know how the outcome of the second half may be. You can see how the game turned out to be in the second half it was so difficult for us.”

We were at our best

Okon Otop is the leading goalscorer for Go Round FC with four goals and although he admitted their goalscoring problem to npfl.ng, he doesn’t think they are a club in crisis.

“For me I wouldn’t say the team is actually passing through anything right now. I will just say luck is not actually on our side because if it’s the game, we played very well.

“We were at our best against Kwara (United), we picked a draw away. We were also at our best against Enyimba, but we lost concentration during the second half. Today’s (Sunday’s) game (against FC Ifeanyiubah) I would just say luck wasn’t on our side. We had chances, we created chances but the ball wasn’t just going in,” a visibly upset Otop explained.

He however added that they are looking beyond this bad spell they are currently having as they hope to conquer MFM FC at home on Wednesday. Otop declared thus: “I bet you we will put a stop to it come Wednesday. Against MFM it will be a different ball game.”

The game against MFM FC of Lagos is a rescheduled Matchday 15 encounter and a much needed win for Go Round FC will lift them from 18th position in dreaded red zone to 14th position behind FC Ifeanyiubah. They will breathe a sigh of relief if that happens and that is exactly what captain Esor is hoping for.

While assessing the team’s performance in the first stanza of the season, Esor took solace in the fact that they are yet to lose a game at home.

“The first half (of the season) has been so, so tough but I think we are grateful to God. Not that everything has been working perfectly well but at least it’s not all that bad. We’ve not lost any game at home and we thank God that at least we’ve got the first draw away (against Kwara United),” Esor said.

Esor confessed that neither the coaches nor the players are happy with their current position and that was why they were desperate for a win against their visitors from Nnewi on Sunday. He however expressed confidence that they will emerge victorious on Wednesday.

Toughest and easiest teams played

So which teams have been the toughest and easiest for Go Round FC thus far?

Esor said: “The toughest match we’ve played so far in our home here is Abia Warriors. We won 1-0 but I don’t want to play that match again, seriously. The easiest match we’ve played I think that will be the match against Niger Tornadoes. We could have scored close to seven goals but be it as it may we ended up getting a 1-1 draw but that was the easiest match we’ve played at home here.

“Away, the easiest match I think we’ve played is against Kwara United because we got a point. The most difficult game away is when we went to El-Kanemi.”

Top-seven target

For Okon Otop, Go Round FC are just experiencing setbacks at the moment and will not go on relegation by the end of the season.

“Yes we are new in the league but we are not new to the system. This is our first season in the league so it’s bound for these setbacks to happen but I think each game we play in football we correct the mistakes we made in the previous game.

“Today is a lesson for tomorrow, so a coach of mine told me. Use today to perfect your tomorrow. I think Go Round would not go on relegation. This team will end up among the first seven of the league. We will end well come the end of the season I strongly believe that.”

Last season, three teams returned to the lower division after spending just one season in the topflight. Same was the case the season before that and as things stand in the NPFL table, newly promoted sides occupy the 18th to 20th positions. Go Round FC definitely know they have their work cut out if they want to remain in the NPFL.