While Plateau United and MFM FC overachieved to enjoy memorable campaigns in the recently concluded 2016-17 Nigeria Professional Football League, Shooting Stars were the flops of the competition, finishing in 17th place to drop into the Nigeria National League.
In truth, it's little surprise that the Oluyole Warriors are back in the NNL having played there as recently as 2014 before returning to the NPFL the following year.
A club of 3SC’s stature should be able to have a solid plan of how to get themselves back to the top of the food chain, but the hierarchy have only succeeded in making a further mockery of the club, despite the thousands of fans who troop to the Lekan Salami Stadium in support of their team on matchdays.
At the start of the season, club chairman Gbolagade Busari promised that the 1976 Caf Confederation Cup winners would wake up from their slumber and become competitive again. However, it soon became apparent that a season of struggle would follow.
Stars let Gbenga Ogunbote - who led them to a ninth place finish upon their return to the top flight in 2015 - leave for Enyimba, and the experienced tactician duly found success there, leading the People’s Elephant to third.
This was one major error. The other was seeing big names also exit the ancient city.
The major departure was Sunday Adetunji, who moved to Abia Warriors and ended up scoring 14 goals for the Umuahia outfit, ending the campaign as the NPFL’s third-highest goalscorer.
These are irreversible decisions that led to the club’s downfall.
Despite seeing the likes of Sunday Faleye and Junior Abayomi dazzle, and old boys Ibrahim Ajani and Wasiu Jimoh return to the side, Shooting failed to find the consistency needed to evade relegation.
The biggest undoing of Fatai Amoo’s men was a seven-game streak of stalemates both home and away that starved them of valuable points. As has been tradition, 3SC picked up form at the last stretch, gaining maximum points at home just like they did last term, but this time it wasn’t enough to save them.
Now, the Oluyole Warriors return to the familiar NNL territory. Their fall after an unconvincing three seasons in the top flight is a clear sign that the club isn’t ready to rise from the ashes just yet.
#Gbolagade Busari: " The government has consented to the partial privatization of the club, we are only waiting for the final nod".— Shooting Stars SC (@Official3SC) September 20, 2017
There is need for a shakeup within the management of the team to ensure the good old days - which saw them establish themselves as one of the strongest teams in Nigeria and Africa - return.
Busari has highlighted that the 1996 Caf Champions League finalists are open to a public-private ownership, and although that should have considered this option long done, it might be the start of the much-needed revival, as the club hasn’t been well managed under the control of the Oyo State government.
Until Shooting Stars realise the values they used to stand there, and understand how to achieve this, life in the second tier of Nigerian club football may give them the option to reevaluate, take stock, and understand how they return to the top of the mountain.