|Photo Credit: Bendel Insurance|
In trying to attain
excellence, it is rare for a mistake to occur twice. That is why the proverb
that you do not fall into the same river twice is apt in more ways than one.
Bendel insurance Football Club of Benin is a different kettle of fish. Mistakes
that have been made in the running of the club have become so numerous that
putting a figure to it is an exercise in futility.
like this. There were times that nobody could countenance that the club
popularly called the Benin Arsenal would be languishing in the lower division of
Nigerian club football.
successes of the club in the seventies, eighties and nineties that the club
became an institution every football fan became associated with. At a time when
the swaying power of European Club football had not taken over the Nigerian
domestic scene, you could almost bet on a full house when Bendel Insurance had
a match at the Ogbe Stadium now Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
not just another club. It is a club that belongs to the fabric of historical
institutions in Nigerian football like Shooting Stars of Ibadan, Rangers of
Enugu, Heartland of Owerri and Stationery Stores of Lagos.
together with the now defunct New Nigerian Bank FC (NNB) where able to
challenge the homogenous dominance of the aforementioned Shooting Stars,
Rangers, Leventis United and Abiola Babes of Abeokuta.
remains amongst the few clubs in Nigeria that can boost of a
continental title. Only Enyimba, Shooting Stars and Rangers belong to that
elite group, which only shows where they actually belong in the annals of
known as the Vipers was formed in 1972 as the football arm of the Bendel
Insurance Company Limited at Dumex/Sapele
Road in Benin
City. An insurance company owned by the old Bendel State
now Edo and Delta
one of the founding members of the Nigerian professional league that kicked of
in the early seventies. Fittingly they won their first league title in 1972.
And they repeated the same fit five years later. With a team that included
future Enyimba coach who led the People’s Elephant to Nigerian’s first CAF
Champions League crown in 2003, Kadiri Ikhana.
|The Bendel Insurance FA Cup winning team of 1978||pictured here at the National Stadium, Lagos||/Photo Credit: Dstv/Supersports|
remained in the top echelons of the Nigerian game, which saw then win the
Nigerian FA Cup three times between their formation in 1972 to 1980.
early and mid nineties that Bendel Insurance really enjoyed consecutive trophy
successes in Africa and regionally in West Africa.
Shooting Stars, El Kanemi Warriors, and Stationery Stores for the league title
in the early nineties, it finished in second place in the 1993 league season,
which gave the club entry into the CAF cup competition now Confederation Cup
which was just two years old at time. Shooting Stars had won the maiden edition
in 1992 when they defeated Villa SC of Uganda.
added to that list of CAF Cup winners when they defeated Primeiro de Maio of Angola 2-1 on
aggregate to enter the history books of Nigerian football.
African Football Union (WAFU) Cup for keeps when they won it in 1993, 1994 and
1995. What was unique about the last trophy triumph of two decades ago was the
coverage given to the team by the local media in Benin City. A team led by the ace sport
broadcaster Felix Okugbe was then with the state own Edo Broadcasting Service,
they relayed live on radio the first leg of the WAFU CUP final when Bendel
Insurance defeated African Sport of Ivory Coast 4-1 at the Ogbe Stadium and the
return leg in Abidjan was recorded on tape and showed on television where they
played a 1-1 draw.
of Bendel Insurance as a club.
two decade might have witness participation in the Confederation Cup in 2005
where they exited in the second round; it has been anything but downhill since.
between the State government led by Sports Commissioner, Brown Ebewele and the
owner of the club, Chief Ekuosehi, over the running of the club in 2008, it led
to the relegation of the Benin Arsenal, and it has been a blow it has failed to
that are owned by State governments, Bendel Insurance is no exception. The Edo State
government assumed full ownership of the club in 2009 after the dispute, but
since then it has not crystallized into promotion from the Nigeria National
team came very close to being relegated to the Amateur league, the third
division which would have been a nadir for it existence as a club.
attempts made by the State government to motivate the players to earn promotion
to the top flight. But this came after series of protest by the players, where
at certain times they barricaded the complex of the Edo State Ministry of
Sports, thereby preventing workers from gaining entrance into their offices.
came, the damaged had been done as they could not secure promotion after
spending much of the early part of the season fighting for their allowances and
allowances, there were times the team had no bus to convey them to away
matches, when the bus was available, there was either no fuel or it broke down
on several occasions when they were away from home.
Insurance makes for grim reading at the moment. But present coach and former
captain of the club, Roland Ewere is upbeat that they would gain promotion this
year from the second division. The NNL has been divided into four regional
groups, with the winners gaining promotion to the top flight.
Commissioner of Sports in the state, Presley Idiagbonyi is towing the same
line of positivism, it remains to be seen whether the same team that could not
make the State FA cup final where they lost out to amateur teams as BJ
Foundation and KuruKuru Dragons would be able to game promotion to the Nigerian
Premier League at the end of the season.
the likes of Super Eagles forward, Osazee Odemwingie deserves to be in the top
flight of Nigerian football, but just dessert does not always fall on the table
as of right, you have to fight for it. It is left for Bendel Insurance to rise
again like a phoenix from the ashes to join their rightful place in Nigerian
Insurance 2, Mogas 90 0 (Benin
1, Bendel Insurance 1
Insurance 4, Africa Sports (Ivory
Sports 1, Bendel Insurance 1