When former captain of the Citizens football club, Adedoyin Ajibike, was appointed as the club’s new boss, expectations were that he would guide the perennial underachievers to glory.
But his first season as a football manager and in charge of the Proud Citizen didn’t go as planned, and it was one of mixed fortunes.
What started as a campaign full of hope quickly became gloomy as the team suffered heavy blows before a miraculous turnaround which eventually ended with heartbreak.
The Citizens kicked off their 2018 campaign in disappointing fashion, losing their first three matches, scoring just one goal and conceding a staggering six.
It began with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Alphas Football Club in their opener in the Island Conference, Doyin’s debut in the Bet9jaSociaLiga, before an embarrassing capitulation in their next game against debutants and eventual champions, Dannaz Football Club.
Inspired by their talented star forward, Joshua Obakimi, Dannaz tore the Citizens into shreds in a one-sided affair that ended with the Cedars running out comfortable 3-0 winners at the Rehabilitation Center in Isheri, Magodo, on Matchday Two.
There would be no breathing space for Doyin and his boys as defending champions, Saints Football Club, came calling next.
The Proud Citizen had never had the better of Saints in SociaLiga history, and that was not about to change either as Kunle Ibaru’s men ran away with a 2-1 victory.
Down and looking out, Doyin’s side had created a record none of their Bet9jaSociaLiga counterparts could be envious of, becoming the first side in the history of the competition to lose their first three games in a season.
Citizens were rock bottom in the Island Conference with zero points from a possible nine and just one goal scored after three matches.
The Sky Blues last reached the playoffs back in 2016 and with three games left in the preliminary stages of the league, only a miracle in the final three games would see them make it again.
And, of course, a miracle indeed Doyin and his boys got!!
Finally off the mark for the season with a point, a win and a draw in their next remaining two games [against Dannaz and Saints] would completely turnaround their season provided Dannaz and Saints did them a favour by beating Alphas.
A shocking 2-1 defeat of the hitherto unbeaten and flying Dannaz team quickly changed the mood and atmosphere around the club, with everyone associated with the Citizens very optimistic for the first time in the season.
With spirits in and around the club now lifted and at all-time high, a draw against Saints in the last game and an Alphas defeat would all but guarantee the Proud Citizen a return to the playoffs for the first time in two years, and they did it!
Inspired by Oge Anizor and giant defensive midfielder, Tide, the Citizens defeated the champions 2-1 to complete the remarkable revival and seal their spot in the playoffs.
The win against Saints saw Citizens become the first side in SociaLiga history to make the playoffs after losing their first three matches. Finally, a record to envy.
Having returned to the playoffs in remarkable fashion, standing between Doyin and more glory were the not-so-impressive Liga giants, Saints.
They were facing Saints for the third time – both teams obviously were tired of playing each other – even though this time the stakes were indeed higher; a spot in the Conference final was up for grabs and both sides were not satisfied with just reaching the playoffs.
While there was little to choose between the two teams after extra time, Saints progressed to the finals after a penalty shootout win, leaving Citizens in severe pains.