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#RoadToFinal: How Raineri overcame self-inflicted adversity

Since making their debut in the SociaLiga two years ago, the Raineri Ghosts have constantly knocked on the doors of the Bet9jaSociaLiga title.

The Ghosts have always made it to the playoffs at least since 2017 and going into season four (4), that stage has become the barest minimum for anyone in charge of the club.

So, having sealed their place once again, how smooth or bumpy was the journey for the Raineri?

Genesis

Raineri started their campaign on a winning note but were pushed to the wall by returning Cubs FC before digging deep to win 3-2 on the opening day of the season.

It was the second successive time Raineri would record a win in their season opener.

But that would be their only win for a while as the Ghosts had to wait until matchday five (5), MD5, to celebrate another victory, picking up just two points from a possible nine in their next three matches.

Two consecutive draws against the Royals FC and Alimosho FC, on MD2 and 3 respectively, both ending in 2-2, softened whatever joy that came from the opening day win.

Those draws were immediately followed by their first defeat of the season, a narrow 1-0 loss to Saints FC on MD4 before they finally bounced back to winning ways in an emphatic fashion on MD5.

Star forward, Olisemeka Esumeh was the inspiration behind their second win of the season, as he netted a hattrick in the 4-0 demolition of the All Black FC.

However, like on MD1, it was short-lived happiness as the Ghosts returned to dropping points in the next matchday, this time against champions, Dannaz FC.

It was a very heated and tense tie against the holders, which ended controversially after Raineri abandoned the game with Dannaz leading 1-2.

With their place in the top four now under serious threat, the Ghosts needed to win their remaining two matches against the Guns and Citizens to meet their minimum target- the playoffs, despite a change of manager.

With their destiny still squarely in their own hands, the Raineri produced an effective and efficient display at the most crucial time to seal their place in the playoffs.

Not only did they win the two matches but did so by scoring four goals and conceding just one.

Guns were the first to go down 2-0, before a clinical performance saw them survive the Citizens 1-2 with Oliseh netting a screamer.

The Fabulous

In terms of positives at the end of the first phase, there are just a few for the Ghosts indeed.

Against the All Black FC, the Ghosts reached their highest level this season. Not only did they record their biggest win and a first clean sheet, but their striker, Oliseh, also became the first and only player to score a hattrick.

The legendary forward went on to score a few more goals to finish the regular season as the second top scorer with six (6) goals.

The Farcical

It has been a very exciting season so far, but Raineri have been involved in the most controversial moments as well and this particular piece will be incomplete without a mention of at least the one that has ultimately left a sour taste in our mouth.

Having caused a scene on matchday four (4) against Saints FC, when he was sent off for unsportsmanlike behavior, Raineri boss, Seth Abayomi, was a man living on borrowed times in the league.

But he apparently didn’t remember this when he repeated a similar behavior this time against champions, Dannaz on MD6 at CIS, Lekki Phase One.

Abayomi, reacting to what he felt was a wrong decision against his side by the referee, staged a walkout with his team as they abandoned the tie against the holders who were leading 1-2 at the time.

His decision would lead to a heated argument at CIS, which ensured the game was suspended for several minutes before the referee finally ended proceedings as the Ghosts ignored all calls to return to the pitch.

Raineri were subsequently fined and docked three points but it was reduced to just a point after an appeal, while Abayomi was banned for life with the club also terminating his contract with immediate effect.

Coach's Corner

While he was an assistant for most part of the regular season until after MD6, when he replaced the sacked Abayomi, Deji Oguntubo has described the season so far for his side as entertaining, controversial and fun.

“It’s been a season filled with so much entertainment, quality football and lots of controversies as well, ” he said.

“Raineri’s season has been very good so far, the minimum expectation from the board was making the playoffs and then having a shot at the title and as things stand, it is still possible.”

The boss is also a big fan of the new league system adopted by the SociaLiga football governing body this season.

“(The) system used this season for me is the best because everyone gets to play each other and know how good they are. The title winners come the end of the season will be thoroughly deserving of their victory.”

Up Next

The Raineri are into the playoffs for the third successive time and since reaching the final two years ago (in season 2), they will be looking to at least seal a ticket to another final.

Standing between them and glory, however, are two-time winners, the Saints FC, who are waiting for the Ghosts in the playoffs.

Both teams clash for the second time this season, the first was a keenly contested affair with the Saint Army taking it narrowly, 1-0.

The Raineri will be eyeing revenge, but their boss, Deji knows his side is up against it after admitting that the Saints remain favorites for the title.

“They have always been a strong team and huge favorites for the title.”

Both teams clash for the second time this season, the first was a keenly contested affair with the Saint Army taking it narrowly, 1-0.

The Raineri will be eyeing revenge, but their boss, Deji knows his side is up against it after admitting that the Saints remain favorites for the title.

“They have always been a strong team and huge favorites for the title.”

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