If there is one man who has been in the middle of things for Glo Premier League leaders Sunshine Stars this season, that person is Dayo Ojo.
He is not gifted with such a big physique in the frame of his teammate Stephen Eze but he makes up for that as the link man between the midfield and the attack of his team, a role akin to a distinguished conductor of a classical musical choir.
No wonder, Ojo is coach Kennedy Boboye’s midfield general and has played in all of Sunshine Stars’ 23 league matches so far this season and he is in line for game number 24.
The petite midfielder, whose first name is written in full as Ekundayo (meaning my sorrow has turned into joy), is hoping this season will end in joyous mood for him and his Sunshine Stars teammates as the club also mark their 20th year of existence.
“We can win the league this season,” Ojo told npfl.ng. “This team is talented enough to do so.”
Ojo, who has been with Sunshine Stars since 2008, underscored his importance in the setup of the Akure club once again in their 4-0 thrashing of Giwa FC over the weekend. He was involved in most of the build-up to their goals and capped up a fine day in the office with an assist.
But the box-to-box midfielder clearly knows that the finish line to this season is still quite a distance away, 15 rounds of matches to the conclusion of the campaign.
Despite acknowledging that the road to claim a first title as a player and with Sunshine Stars is still months away, the midfielder is happy to see the Owena Waves return to top spot though they have Enyimba on their tails.
Ojo said: “It is always nice to lead the table, though there is always pressure that comes with it. But since I have been at this club this is our best chance of finally winning the league for the first time, and by God’s grace we will achieve that.
“I am not worried (with Enyimba being close on our tails) because the league is 85 per cent okay in terms of officiating and security now. When you play away from home you are guaranteed points if you do well.”
The Glo Premier League leaders have only secured just a win on the road, a 3-0 spanking of Heartland at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, as well as four draws on the road at Sharks, Nasarawa United, Lobi Stars and FC Ifeanyiubah compared to Enyimba and Wikki Tourists with the highest number of wins on the road, being four.
The Sunshine Stars midfielder has refused to allow their away form worry him and believes that they will start claiming points on the road but stated that their 100 per cent record at home of winning all of their 12 matches including last weekend’s 4-0 victory over Giwa FC, which remains their biggest win of the season.
“We have played just four matches into the second round, so I believe we can still get more away wins to the one we have so far. When we won against Heartland in Owerri no one really gave the chance but by God’s grace we will win more away games before the season starts. But we also need to know that winning our games at home will be helpful too,” said Ojo to npfl.ng.
Ojo stopped to recall how close Sunshine Stars came to winning their first league title in the 2010/11 season when Dolphins won the title by two points on the last day on 13 November, 2011. Dolphins finished that season on 73 points while Sunshine Stars ended in second place with 71 points.
The title race dragged on till the final day that year. Ojo recalls that Sunshine Stars were a point ahead of Dolphins. But Sunshine Stars lost one-nil at Kano Pillars to a Abdul Haruna goal while Dolphins edged Bukola Babes (now ABS FC) 1-0 through Derrick Amadi’s goal.
“This is a first time since 2011 that we are coming close to being champions though we still have 15 matches to the end of the season. That year our coach was Gbenga Ogunbote (now coach of Shooting Stars).
“But on the last day we lost to Kano Pillars in Kano and Dolphins won their match against ABS in Ilorin. It was painful but we had to accept it since we played on the continent the following year.
“Now we have found ourselves in another good position to win the title for the first time, and by God’s grace we will do our best to win though it will be easy,” Ojo remarked.
The 25-year-old Sunshine Stars midfielder is hoping that they do enough to wrap up a first league title before the pressure of the final day rush sets in.
But if they fail to win the league in good time with games to spare then they will have to brace themselves up for a final day showdown with one of the title contenders, Enyimba, at the Akure Stadium on 15 November.