Bayelsa Queens of Yenogoa have reached the final of the 2022/2023 Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Super 6 after defeating Rivers Angels by a lone goal on Friday.
It was the second narrow win for the league’s defending champions following their victory over FC Robo of Lagos by the same scoreline on Wednesday.
Bayelsa Queens topped group A with six maximum points to book their spot in the finals of the ongoing competition at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, Delta State.
In Friday’s game, the Yenagoa side got the only goal from the spot in the third minute of play.
But there was drama when the centre referee blew the final whistle after disallowing a stoppage-time equaliser by the Port Harcourt side who needed a draw to progress to the final.
Players of Rivers Angels charged at the referee with the goalkeeper leading the pack. She shoved the referee as her colleagues were furiously advancing. To save his own life, the centre referee took to his heels and escaped through the tunnel as security agents made frantic efforts to bring the enraged Angels under control.
The grouse of the players was that the centre referee did not only award a fathom penalty to Bayelsa Queens, but he also disallowed their stoppage-time equaliser. Speaking after frayed nerves were calm, the Technical Adviser of Bayelsa Queens, Domo Okara, said the officiating was fair.
“The standard is high, it was a 50/50 game but I am happy that my team won. The officiating was fair, the officials are human and can make mistakes,” Okara said.
Coach of Rivers Angels, Edwin Okon, on the other hand, has blamed poor officiating for the narrow loss to neighbouring Bayelsa Queens on Friday.
The Port Harcourt side who needed a draw to progress to the finals, conceded a penalty to Bayelsa Queens which was duly converted within the opening three minutes. A stoppage time equaliser was disallowed as the assistant referee on the far side had raised the flag indicating that the ball had crossed the line for goal kick before it was returned into play for conversion.
The loss to Bayelsa Queens condemned Rivers Angels to a third-place play-off. Speaking after the match, the coach said his side was robbed by the officials.
“I lost to poor officiating because the referee wanted it that way. The first incident was not a penalty, that is why we need VAR in this sort of competition. The disallowed goal did not cross the line before the assistant referee on the far side raised the flag.
“So how do we progress in the league? You struggle to build a team and one man in the name of the referee will kill it. So what is the essence of training?
“I lost nine players before the league started and we were able to still build a team, and that makes it more annoying to lose to poor officiating. How do get better sponsorship with this sort of officiating? This was not a tough match, it is the officiating that robbed us of victory, the referee did not even allow us to get to where we will get the goals,” he added.
Okon said he has already laid a complaint about the game against the defending champions to the board of the Nigeria Football Federation, and hoped that his protest would be addressed for the overall good of the game.