CAFCC: Enyimba 0-0 Bidvest: Not pleasant but job gets done

Good morning Guys. 

Yet again, Paul Aigbogun has led his Enyimba side into the Group Stages of the CAF Confederations Cup. Our South African opponents Bidvest Wits aka the Clever Boys came to Calabar and were looking to snatch a ticket into the money-spinning Group Stage, our boys held firm. 0-0 it ended at the UJ Esuene, making it a 1-1 aggregate result. 

First of all, on the grand scheme of things, this was job well and truly done. Especially when you consider the fact that of all Nigeria’s Continental representatives, we are now the only remaining survivors. Akwa United won 3-1 but fell short on away goals rule. MFM after losing 1-0 at home, were only able to hold their opponents to a goalless draw and Plateau United were of course, pummeled. I hope to talk about Plateau United someday soon. 

By way of personnel, it was an injury-inspired lineup. Nelson Ogbonnaya sat out the encounter as Ifeanyi Anaemena partnered Isiaka Oladuntoye. Up top, we were missing striker Ibrahim Mustapha scorer of the away goal in South Africa. Ibenegbu and Oladapo played in midfield while Farouk completed the trio. In goal, it was Dauda while Ikouwem and Andrew played at fullback. 

Coming into the game with some form of an advantage, the bigger question was how to manage the game to ensure you don’t hand your opponents some away goal advantage. If we let them score, we would need to score twice or be hopeful via penalties to go through. An away goal always meant trouble and with how they attacked, we knew we were in danger of letting one in. 

But we didn’t. We eventually held on till the closing seconds of the game when we got awarded a penalty. Substitute Freedom Omofoman had been fouled in the area. Austin Oladpo stepped up but forced a save from Josephs in the Bidvest goal. Anaemena followed with the rebound but could only hit the side netting. Thankfully it wasn’t costly – our away goal was enough to see us over the line. 

Afterwards the gaffer said, 

“We glory to God and secondly, they are a good team. If you look at the game there 1-1 look at the game here 0-0. I mean they are Champions of South Africa so we knew it was going to be good too”. 

On misfiring strikers…

“Obviously we want them to score more but we will work on that but first of all we will have to enjoy today first”.
Nothing short of a job well done. The team did just enough to make it into the next round where surely tougher challenges lie but like the gaffer said, we have to enjoy this. 

Well done Enyimba.

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

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Enyimba v Bidvest Wits: Please Aigbogun, don’t play a “false 9”

Good morning guys,

I’ll say it, “Long time no see” right? Yea. The last blog was on the 1-1 draw away at Kwara United and with a crucial game today, we have to dust up our writing gadgets and have a go at writing again. How are things with you? Good I hope. And if not so good, chill, things will get better, Amen? Amen. 

So we play the Clever Boys today in the second leg of our CAF Confederation Cup. We hard fought a 1-1 a couple of days ago in South Africa and with such a good result, we do look odds on to complete the job and make it to the lucrative Group Stages. The only trouble is, football is not played on paper, it is a question of what actually transpires on the pitch. We have 90 minutes to put ourselves over the line.

So what’s with the blog title today, you’d ask. I’ll explain. 

Yesterday I was watching Plateau United with a few friends. I actually tuned in at 2-0 and when I said, “Plateau United were 2-0 down and halfway home already”, one of my friends replied, “Don’t mind Boboye. He’s playing a false 9. They will score two goals in the second half”. In truth. He was only mocking Plateau and I’m not sure they were actually playing a false 9 or anything like that, they were just woeful on the day. They did lose 4-0.

So please, no false 9 or any other weird formation today. We actually do possess the quality to go through if we stay disciplined and put in a professional performance. Midfielder Oladapo had already clearly stated the magnitude of the task facing us. Hopefully the team lives up to the billing. In truth, this match is very winnable. We should be going through. 

By way of personnel, I have no idea on who is fit and who isn’t. Forgive me, I haven’t been close to the team for over a week now. But we have been quite unfortunate on the injury front judging from recent games. I’m hoping Mustapha Ibrahim is back in action. Our first choice Centreback pairing as well -Anaemena and Ogbonnaya. It would be a blessing to have our best legs out there. That said, if we don’t, isn’t that why we have a robost squad? 

If you live in or around Calabar, please go and cheer the Team. The gates are thrown open – so go and don’t go alone, take a few of your friends. Hopefully, the boys will get the job done. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Kwara 1-1 Enyimba: Yet another away point

A few days ago, the Kwara United Twitter handle threw a jab at Enyimba. Saying stuff about how fruitless our trip to their place would be. I responded. I said, remember what happened the last time. Kwara is now one of my favorite places on earth. Why? Because of late, it is a good hunting ground for us. At full time, it ended Kwara 1-1 Enyimba. 

We wake up today, beaten just twice in 14 games. One of the better records in the Championship. 7th on the log, 8 points off the pace albeit with two games now in hand. The worry is that we haven’t won away from home but with seven away draws, that’s more or less two away wins. It isn’t a flawless record as there are better teams but it’s a lot better than what we are used to.

Let’s talk a little about the game, shall we? The choice of personnel was surprising. Defenders Ernest Governor and Uche John started in Central defence. Ibenegbu returned in midfield and up top, it was Chukwude and Mustapha. Abdulrahman Bashir also started and Stanley Dimgba was on the bench. However the big  surprise was in goal – Ikechukwu Ezenwa got the nod in goal. Dauda sat out. 

A trademark of Paul Aigbogun’s teams is starting a game like someone just robbed them of their cellphones. By the third minute we already had a shout for a penalty which the referee ignored. Five minutes later, there was no denying us another one. Up stepped Ibenegbu and fired us ahead. It is a blessing to have that one player who is dependable via set pieces and especially in a league of penalties. 

The Coach of the season award should be that gaffer whose team goes through an entire season without giving away a penalty. What are the chances of us having such team?

Anyway, it wasn’t long before we had another penalty shout. Again the referee ignored. What slowly happened was injuries to key players. Off came Chukwude and off came Mustapha. Nonso came in and Freedom as well. Freedom nearly got us the third penalty – except by then, the referee was already wearing his “I’m a horrible referee” cap. It meant we could get clattered in their area and there was no consequence. 

They did get a leveler – In the second half and of course, Ikechukwu Ezenwa got injured and got replaced by Dauda. A quick word on that. I found it strange that the club rolled out a news report making mild of his injury even before we got the official match report from the game. He has to go to the …never mind. Now it’s got us all thinking- never mind. 

At the end it ended 1-1 and although it did look like two points dropped, I bet we can be satisfied with away point we get anywhere in our League.  Welldone lads. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

A trip down memory lane and a trip to Illorin: Kwara vs Enyimba 

There is a picture I think is more or less symbolic of the last Kadiri Ikhana title winning season. It’s a picture of Obiozor and Ifeanyi George and Ezekiel Bassey celebrating at a corner flag. We had just scored one of our goals in a 3-2 away win, our third away win that year. The picture was on my former blog site but as you all know, that site packed up. I don’t have that image anymore. 

I’ll refresh your minds on what happened in that game. Ifeanyi George and Christian Obiozor got us 2-0 up before the 40th minute. Three minutes or so later, Femi Oladapo who used to be our player till the start of this current season pulled one back for them – this was in 2015. In the second half, Markson Ojobo, remember him? Yeah. He got us a third goal from the spot. 

Imagine leading 3-1 away from home – ladies and gentlemen, Enyimba title winning squad of 2015 were in a class all by themselves. In the dying minutes, Dare Ojo who now plays for us got a second goal for them. We held on to actually get all three points. I was in Warri that MatchDay but I savored that victory and in the end of course we went in to win the title. 

Well, we face bottom placed Kwara United in a game that looks every inch a banana skin. Kwara have blow hot and cold this season, the later more often but like we know, it’s a person’s form on the day that matters. In other words, though we are looking an unbeatable lot, we can’t take anything for granted. We have to put in the discipline and commitment this game deserves otherwise we will come home empty handed. 

If last night’s Champions League taught us anything, it is that a team in high spirits and infront of her fans can pull off a remarkable result. Kwara United have gotten one of the leagues more decent coaches now, sending John Obuh packing. It’s the same side that finds wins difficult to come by personnel wise but with a charismatic gaffer, you can expect they will be roaring to go. 

We have to give this game the commitment it deserves if we hope to get anything off it. There’s been whispers of a title for Enyimba title at the end of the year – but we will have to work and put it decent training hours to get there. It will have to be one game at a time beginning from this one with Kwara. 

All the best to the lads….

Back tomorow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Injury update on Left Back Ben Francis injured in Bidvests game 

Good morning everyone, 

Everyone of us have that one aunt who when she calls, you 1. Pick up the phone. 2. You listen to her wail and whine and shout and gossip and tell stories for as long as she deems ok while you keep saying “Yea”, “True” and “hmmm” intermittently. She keeps talking like there’s a word count she must exhaust and bro, you dare not interrupt. 

That little description above is necessary because I’m attempting to write this blog while listening to my good ol aunt. I was writing already before she called and knowing I’ll be heading to work in a few minutes, so I’ve got to multitask right now and hopefully I can keep my thoughts on the right track and not get distracted. 

Last weekend in South Africa, Left back, Benjamin Francis got injured and was rushed to the hospital in our 1-1 draw with Bidvest Wits. Initially we thought it was a “regular” injury till after the game when we heard that he was indeed rushed to the hospital and the club chairman had gone to know of his wellbeing. That was when it became more serious to us. 

Benjamin had a horribly bad cut to his ear in that game. It was bad, bad enough to be rushed to the hospital but I’m sure it wasn’t anything close to what the Apostle Peter did on Marcus when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. The chairman did stay back while the rest of the team travelled back to Nigeria while he underwent some surgery. 

Well, the good news is, Benjamin Francis had a successful surgery and he is back in the country. The doctor did a pretty decent job on him and although I’m not sure how this surgery will influence his degree of “fineboyness”, word is he’s alright now. We were also worried that he was nearing that boundary of being termed “injury-prone” having been out injured a couple of week prior. That tag can wait cos this one was clearly accidental. 

The rest of the team is in Illorin as we ready to play Kwara United tomorrow in a rescheduled League game. We should also play our league fixture for the weekend but the Bidvest return fixture is for next week. 

Time to get my aunt off the phone for real now. 

Have a beautiful Tuesday everyone. 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Readying for Wits but asking the right questions

Good morning everyone, 

We are back home, readying for the reverse fixture of our duel with Bidvest Wits. I only more recently realized that they are called “The Clever Boys” because they’re the “wits”. One more word on that fixture, I think it was a professional performance and I do believe we will get better if we progress in the competition. 

I’ll like to clarify something in the blog about LMC’s Easter break decision. It did cause quite some stir and that’s understandably so. And for the first time I felt like I wrote a post that nobody understood. Perhaps it was in how I wrote what I wrote, let’s set the records straight. 

Our League is far away from professional. We are called Professional but we all know we are a work in progress. We aren’t anywhere near there – we have player legitimacy issues, we have salary issues, we have horrible infrastructure, we have awful referees, we aren’t anywhere near those leagues in Europe we are being compared to. 

We have players travelling thousands of kilometers to honour games whereas flying is the better option. We have players being owed salaries every other week. We have administrators who are doing anything but actually respect the game and grow our game. We all know this. So what exactly makes us professional? Hope. That we will get there. 

Raising the dust cos the LMC called for an Easter break is like the proverbial storm in a teacup. We have big big problems in the League that playing on Easter won’t fix. I don’t work for the LMC – I’m just a fan right now but I’m very concerned that we aren’t anywhere near where we should. Why aren’t we getting brands partner with our teams? Why aren’t clubs making money? Why aren’t we making money off player sales? 

I believe that a club like Enyimba can make massive profits every year. I believe we can have a world class facility like we see abroad and employ as many as 200 people both playing and other staff. These are the things we should get outraged about. These are the targets we can set for our teams. These are the things that count. 

I do think we will get to a point where we won’t make religiously influenced decisions for the League. That was my thinking as I typed those words in the blog.

Have a beautiful week everyone. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Late Post: 3 things from the Bidvest game 

Sincere apologies to all those who visited the blog within the past one week. There was a No Call, No Show on the blog. I’m struggling at the moment to combine what has been a very tough semester, my private project and running the blog. I’m working on some stuff behind the scenes for the blog. Believe me I am. And when it is all set, it would bring us all joy. 

This post is coming up 24 hours after it should have. For the love of this blog please read on. 

Ahead of our first leg vs Bidvest, I was curious as to how the game would be set up. I was worried about this new South African sensation and how we could suffer at their hands at their place. I’d put down my thoughts in a 3 things format yet again. 

1. Attack: the best form of defence: Abdulrahman Bashir, Chinonso Okonkwo, Stanely Dimgba and Ibrahim Mustapha all started. When I saw that, my initial thoughts were, we are going for it. I didn’t see the game and according to the game we were under the cosh for most of the second half, but the tactic worked. We didn’t get beaten, we got an away goal, we have given ourselves a good chance to make it into the group stages. 

2. Again Aigbogun shuts up doubters: The jury remains out on our gaffer but he is skipping past each hurdle with a smile on his face. A lot of people were apprehensive when he was handed the reins a second time but like we shared in this post, Aigbogun is making mockery of all those who are comparing his away record in his first stint with what he’s doing right now. Just three defeats in almost 20 games, this man is odds on to get a trophy by the end of the season. 

3. This tie looks over but it is not, by a mile: Bidvest would be disappointed that they failed to beat us at their place but anyone expecting them to throw in the towel at this point without a fight, surely has it coming. They are coming to Calabar with a resolve that their Continental activity wouldn’t get an early shower. Reason why our boys need to win the return fixture. All of our joy from this game, counts for nothing. Hopefully that wont be the case. 

That’s your lot.

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Rescheduling games for Easter celebrations, is the LMC right to do so? 

Happy Easter Holidays men and brethren, 

There’s no league action this weekend and a lot of people are fuming about it and I’ll like to address that. On social media platforms especially Twitter, the outrage is currently ongoing and a lot of folks are having a go because the LMC has rescheduled all the Easter weekend games, moving them to the midweek. And that’s the LMC’s latest crime. Let’s talk about this, shall we? 

First of all, the question by these guys is – “Why aren’t we playing games on Easter Sunday?”, “Why has the LMC denied us an opportunity to go to the stadium and hang out with our families this Easter weekend?”, “Why isn’t the LMC encouraging the growth of the League?”. Others say, “We are not ready to grow the league” all the stuff. Oh I didn’t put out all of them but I’m sure you can understand where the gist is going. 

If a passerby reads these arguments, they could easily want to cast the first stone that breaks the head of this fellow called LMC who doesn’t see anything good in fixing up the League. This passerby wouldn’t know that the LMC has become the easier target for some people who just appear on Twitter and probably not have anything else to say. Nor will he know that prior to the rescheduling of these games, some of these folks had absolutely no plans of going to the stadium this weekend. 

Let’s be honest, the LMC and indeed our League is in Nigeria- one of the most religious countries in the world. And such it is only logical, that what is done for the goose is supposed to be done for the gander. Is this “professional”? Maybe not. But with this practice already in place, In a bid for the LMC not to appear taking sides or honoring one religious holiday and having no such regard for the other, rescheduling this weekend’s games becomes necessary. It’s basically as simple as that. 

The English Premier League of which millions of Nigerians are ardent supporters, resumes today after an International break. I can bet my savings that a lot of these wailers had more solid plans of watching these games all through the weekend than making any trip to any stadium. Except of course the folks in Kano and Maidugiri where football is almost worshipped. And most of these fans in Kano and Maidugiri are not on Twitter and are not the ones complaining. 

On the flip side, the only people not complaining about this development are the principal actors themselves. The players and match officials are grateful they can get a day or two to hang out with their families (for those who can) and (for those who can’t) just spend a weekend away from the gruesome trip to whatever part of the country they would be assigned to. And oh Nigerian roads.  

There are more important issues in the development of our league that we aren’t talking about. We have issues like player welfare, improving the stock of our clubs and our clubs getting more serious about income generation. No one is talking about those. Isn’t it about time we started demanding more from club administrators? Couldn’t we use our energy to hammer on these more intricate issues? Rather than wondering what the LMC suits are doing giving us an Easter breather. 

Back tomorrow 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Enyimba and other NPFL heavyweights: A business model we can learn from. 

Good morning Guys, this post will inspire you. Give it a good read.

In 2004, the initiative of having a grassroot football club, mainly as a platform for recreational activity for the Youth of Ketu Area of Lagos State Nigeria, occurred to Mr Kunle Soname. He started out what we know as “Remo Stars” today as FC DENDER of Lagos. 
In 2010, continual hard work of the club saw them graduate into the second tier of Nigerian Football, the Nigeria National League (NNL). Further development saw the club’s management rebrand its organization. They played in the top division in Nigerian football, the Nigerian Premier League after promotion in 2016. After placing 20th in the 2017 season, they were relegated by after just one season.

For the owner of the club side, Mr Kunle Soname, It is not all about the football on the pitch but the off pitch business too. Remo Stars boast of an Under 13, Under 15, Under 17 and then the main team. A more reason why the club are thriving in producing talents because it embraces the true concept of “Total Football”. 

In the last six years, Remo Stars have exported home grown talents abroad, six of which are Edward Abubu, Gbadamosi Ibrahim, Ofufu N. Ibeh, Dayo Femi and Ayomide Akiode all of which have moved to CD Feriensce in the Portuguese elite division, a club also owned by the Chairman of Remo Stars, Mr Kunle Soname. 

Just recently, the club confirmed the departure of Isa Aliyu to Armenia side Lori FC. The Kaduna Born Attacker signed a two years deal after completing his medicals on Thursday and was unveiled to the media in Armenia. The club also produced one of NPFL’s finest goal scorers in recent season, Victor Mbaoma of Akwa Utd and a midfield masetro in Oche Salefu of Rivers Utd. It was reliably gathered that a breach in contract agreement didn’t allow both players to sign for MFM FC of Lagos, no thanks to the club’s management understating what really means to have both players in their books. 

Sources says both players arrived Rivers Utd and Akwa Utd in excess of 10million naira as loan fee. Make that good business in the NPFL!  The club has boast of a private stadium under construction. Despite the club’s involvement in the NNL this season and losing of their two prized assest, Victor and Oche, the club has new players already who are stepping up to fill the void, Chisom and Marcus are names that comes to mind. 

This players’ trend is only possible for the club to do because the right structure for such to thrive is already in place. Questions now needs to asked of the big boys in the NPFL, Enyimba, Rangers Intl, Kano Pillars, etc. Are the perennial champions of the NPFL being run the way football is being managed in other climes?! 

Remo Stars FC of Ogun State might have got relegated in their debut NPFL season but the Sagamu based side are showing top NPFL clubs how and what it really means to do the football business and beyond. Isn’t it high time NPFL clubs took Remo Stars as a model for Football structure and business. 

Written by NPFL lover and ardent follower, the one we call Mike the Pundit. Follow him on Twitter via @michaellmianvan

Back tomorrow fellas, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

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