Rarely does a newly promoted team come into the Nigeria Professional League and thrive at the first time of asking.
It sounds like a fairytale, but that beautiful reality that won the hearts of many Nigerian football enthusiasts both home and abroad is fast becoming an unhappy situation, with the Olukoya Boys struggling.
Sunday’s 1-0 loss at home to Abia Warriors was their first defeat at the Agege Stadium since losing to Shooting Stars two years ago. It left Fidelis Ilechukwu and his entire crew visibly frustrated, and they were unwilling to speak to the media after the game.
The defeat might be a bitter pill to swallow considering that they should have won the game, but the church-run club only have themselves to blame for their malaise this year.
They’ve failed to be assertive, and teams can now have an easy go and believe that they can secure a result.
Featuring in the Caf Champions League with their unique style of play was something that was expected to put Nigeria back on the continental map, but they struggled and were deservedly eliminated.
They failed to plan well, and the depth of their squad...or lack thereof...was exposed.
The recent decline in MFM's performance in all competitions this season is quite alarming. After that brilliant run last season earned them a continental spot, we expected continuity but it is no where to be found now. #NPFL— Areo Samueli O. (@Undisputed_Jsam) May 16, 2018
Coming in as a privately-run club, it was expected that MFM would do things different from the majorly government-owned clubs in the top flight.
They did, with their attacking, entertaining and possession-based football, but the truth is that MFM are not really too different from the state-owned clubs that lack a proper structure.
The Olukoya Boys are not doubt blessed with some of the finest players in the country, but they are struggling to keep a hold of them.
This started with their all-time top marksman Stephen Odey, who moved to FC Zurich last year, but to date, they've failed to get a replacement.
Fans are losing interest because the side is not well funded and improved. Look at this, a certain Junior Lokosa who last played for First Bank of Lagos left for far away Pillars under MFM's eyes, What about Mbaoma? A lot needs to change if things would get better.#NPFL— Areo Samueli O. (@Undisputed_Jsam) May 16, 2018
The distracted Sikiru Olatunbosun – recipient of the CNN Goal of the Week - has reportedly been trying to force a move out of the Agege Stadium, but all attempts to move abroad have failed.
Within the mid-season transfer window, big names like Ospino Egbe, Tchato Giscard, Jesse Akilla, Monsuru Bahiru, Adebayo Waheed and Wilfred Ammeh have left the club and it is rumoured that MFM’s midfield maestro, Chukwuka Onuwa, might also head out of the club.
Coach Ilechukwu has cut a frustrated figure multiple times this season at the failure of his players to play to their usual rhythm and has not been as media friendly as he was previously.
A privately-run club should not be having such problems like this when things are going well, and momentum ought to be maintained.
This situation just points to the fact that MFM are living for the moment like any other NPFL club, without thinking ahead for the future.
A club that plans ahead will ensure all the necessary things are in plac to to steadily improve, but if the outfit can’t claim ownership of players and sign them on contracts that offer rewarding financial incentives, then trouble will loom.
If Mountain of Fire FC can’t operate as a private-owned entity should, their fairytale could be over as quikcly as it started.
It’s up to them to save their burgeoning reputation if they are to realise their undoubted potential.