U.S-based Francis Monidafe was one of the main actors in the Nigerian elite league in the 1970s and early 1980s and so he knows what playing in the highest level of the competition means to a club and their supporters. Monidafe, who was in the Bendel Insurance’s team that famously beat the then dreaded Enugu Rangers 3-0 to win the national Challenge Cup, now known as Aiteo Cup, in 1978, is excited with the performance of Bendel Insurance FC, which is pushing for a place in the Nigeria premier league after spending 11 years in the lower division. He says the team, their supporters and football in Edo and Delta states would not be the same again if Insurance achieved the feat.
The Benin Arsenal, as Bendel Insurance is fondly called, took a giant step towards returning to the top tier of Nigerian football with a 2-1 victory over Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan on Monday.
The 2-1 victory took Bendel Insurance to the top of the NNL table, though the club still has to play in the Super Eight, from where the teams to be promoted to the Premier League will be determined.
Speaking with The Guardian from his base, Monidafe praised the players and coaching crew of Bendel Insurance for the achievement so far, just as he urged them not to relent until the ticket to the elite division is secured.
Monidafe, who played for the senior national team from 1978 to the early 1980s, said in a message to The Guardian yesterday: “Great news, Bendel Insurance is back to where it belongs. A big congratulations to Governor Godwin Obaseki, coach Monday Odigie and his crew for job well done. It is time for Bendel Insurance to rumble with the big boys again.”
When reminded that Bendel Insurance has one more hurdle to cross before playing in the elite division, Monidafe responded: “I am confident that the zeal, determination and support that took the club to the top of their group in the NNL will see them through in the Super Eight playoff.”
Source: G Sport