By Samuel Bamisebi
Lethargic and uninspiring is the best way to describe the performance of the University of Lagos Marines in the last two editions of the Higher Institution Football League. However, the team is not giving up their status as one of the most respected schools in every aspect in Nigeria as they brace for the start of the new HIFL season in two weeks time.
Unilag Marines have failed to go past the first stage of the last two editions of the HIFL but have produced some fine football and also talented players, the most notable is Robert Odu, who is the first player to play International Professional Football after Playing in the HIFL as he now plays with Happy Valley FC in the Hong Kong Premier League, where he fired his team to the Sapling Cup Final before losing 2-0 to a stronger Eastern Long Lions on Wednesday, 7th April 2021.
With new players in the team and old players out of the school, the team coach has tried to bring the players to train twice even as the school has been running online and training has been hard to come by, now the players are shuffling writing exams with training and playing matches to prepare for the HIFL in which many of their players would still be unavailable due to exams.
Glitzsport reporter, Samuel Bamisebi sat with the coach of the team, Dr M.A Ogunsemore, to discuss the team’s chances in this season’s HIFL competition.
How Prepared Is Your Team For This Season’s HIFL?
The training schedule has been a very tedious one to get players to come to train as some players come from very far distance to the school to train not forgetting that students are not in their hostels because of the pandemic. But these players have shown their interest and they manage to come around as we scheduled our training to two days in the week, Morning and Evening on Monday and Wednesdays.
Unilag has failed to go past the first round in the last three major tournaments which includes the previous two editions of the HIFL and the last edition of the West African University Games. What are you bringing this year that is different and will help your team past the first stage this time?
Actually, the zeal, interest and commitment of the players to actually come to training despite the difficulties is there. We have a different crop of players that are dedicated and want to win.
What is the target you’re setting for yourself and the team going into this 2021 season of the HIFL?
Most competitions we play in, we always get to the finals but the HIFL is a different ball game entirely where u find out that some players who play for some schools are not “bonafide” students of the schools and this has brought some sort of discouragement to the players. In Unilag, we’re known for actually using bonafide students, training them and getting them ready. We want to do well in this competition not minding all the odds and I assure that our boys will do very well.
The league is set to commence in April with qualifying rounds involving over forty top University teams alongside a host of other exciting activities organised announced Thursday, 4th March at the International Press Conference held in Lagos.