NEWS DIGEST – Yekini Adebayo, the coach of Niger United male handball club of Minna, on Friday in Abuja appealed to the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) to lift the ban on his players.
Adebayo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja that four of his keys players were banned for one year.
The ban was imposed during the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) in December in Abuja and it had affected players such as Joseph Owokire, Buhari Mohammed, Haruna Masu and Shagari Aliyu.
The coach said the players were banned based on what the federation’s disciplinary committee termed indiscipline during the last National Sports Festival (NSF) in Abuja in 2018.
“I plead with the federation’s president, Sam Ocheho, and the federation’s disciplinary committee to temper justice with mercy and lift the suspension on them,’’ he said.
Adebayo said his club was already feeling the players’ absence.
“We are feeling their absence in the team. That is why we lost two of our games, but we were able to win five.
“Now, I’m afraid (that) we cannot maintain our position as defending champions with this development,” he said.
The coach was however quick to point out that the team’s major challenge remains finance and proper funding.
“We were late in coming to honour our first match last week Tuesday and we were walked over because we came three hours late.
“We were actually looking for money for logistics to convey us from Minna to Abuja.
“If there had been money for the team, we would have arrived on Monday, the arrival day. This would have given us the opportunity to rest before the opening game,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Niger United are the league’s defending champions but they are currently fourth on the table with 10 points.
The 2019 Prudent Energy Handball Premier league is being hosted at the velodrome of the Abuja National Stadium with 12 male and 10 female teams from across the country.
The competition is the first phase of the league’s second edition, and it is scheduled to end on Saturday while the second phase is slated for Lagos.(NAN)