Odinga sees Sharks swimming out of relegation

By Tola Badekale

The troubles of Sharks FC can be traced to the early parts of last season when they burst in front and led on the log for weeks before a defeat on a road trip to FC Taraba in Jalingo which was followed by two consecutive defeats in Jos and Kano. The Blue Angels lost grip of the top spot and what followed was a battle to escape relegation. In the season before last, Sharks had also struggled, swimming in the relegation currents until coach Gbenga Ogunbote arrived to salvage the team from the drop.

Reflecting on this long running travails of the Port Harcourt team, captain Odinga Odinga attributes the perennial struggles to various issues that bother on motivation of players.

Sharks are bottom of the standings after 16 rounds of matches and needing urgent improvements to revive their season, but the captain says now that issues like payment of outstandings owed players, playing home matches away from their beloved Sharks Stadium and the poor form of their strikers are being resolved, he expects a good turn around in the next few weeks.

In the last two seasons, club finances dipped so low that the players often embarked on protests to the seat of government of Rivers State, owners of the club to demand payment of salaries and sundry entitlements. That was during the administration of the immediate past governor of the state and things began to look up recently with the new administration in the state offering to clear about nine months salary arrears.

"The morale of my mates is much better with the recent action of the River State Governor. The fact that we have been playing home fixtures at the Liberation Stadium was also a setback for our fans and players alike. Though that stadium is also in Port Harcourt. we however felt in some matches like we were the away team. But I am glad we are now back to where we honestly feel at home," admitted Odinga.

Odinga has played for Sharks for over a decade, so he knows issues around the Blue Angels more than most. He argues while the poor run of results which has seen them play 13 games without a win can be blamed on the departure of Ogunbote, there are some other off the pitch niggles.

"Coach Ogunbote was instrumental to turning around our season in the 2012/13 season. Sadly he is not with the club anymore, but his absence is not the major cause of our poor form. Players cannot give their best when there are too many distractions. If you look at the team, you would have noticed it is mainly the same set of players and we are playing beautiful football, it is just that our strikers have been unlucky. We have also drawn many matches, even at home," he said.

Indeed much is expected from Sharks forwards. The return to their Sharks Stadium base saw them fire blanks in a goalless draw against Nasarawa United. 

"I believe the management is planning to beef up the team during the mid-season break, especially on getting goal scorers. All things considered you shall see a better Sharks very soon," said Odinga.

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