By Augustine Anioke
Sunshine Stars football Club of Akure have sacked over 25 players who were part of the team that escaped relegation last season.
The club however invited about 21 new players who are undergoing trials with the retained players in its Abakaliki, Ebonyi State pre-season camp.
Coach of the team, Ayodeji Ayeni Alexander stated this at the Pa Oruta Ngele Township stadium Abakaliki, after he led the team to beat an amateur side, PCM FC 2-0 in a pre-season friendly match.
The team had earlier played out a goaless draw with one of Ayeni’s former club and Nigerian League One (NLO) campaigners, Cynosure FC.
Coach Ayeni, who took charge of the team at the second half of the 2020/21 NPFL season from Ekiti United when they were languishing in the drop zone on a rescue mission and against all odds managed to rescue them from relegation, attributed the achievement to hardwork, commitment, dedication and prayers.
“The boys really rose up to the occasion. The expectations of the people were not all that positive initially but along they line they rallied round the team and the team was able to escape relegation”.
He said: “We met 42 players and in fairness we only retained 17 of them because the level of quality of the players we met on ground was not encouraging and a lot of issues happened along the line when we were playing the league.
“So we needed to reorganize the team, both playing personnel and other department needed to be restructured and that is what we are doing presently”.
“We have almost 38, we are doing substitution by elimination. We want to compare the one that is playing and the one that is coming in, if we can have a synergy of working relationship.
“We have a number that the management instructed us to recruit and we are working towards that, we haven’t arrived at the final number yet”.
The Coach said the team’s target for the 2021/22 season is to get a continental ticket.
“Every human being must be a very positive thinker. We believe we are going to have a wonderful season. Out target is to get a continental ticket by being among the top three and I believe that it is achievable”, he said.