Could we get the Prodigal son back home? 

The temptation was to continue from where we left off yesterday, talking about Rangers who have become victims of their own success. The LMC hammer has come on the Enugu based club with sanctions and punishments for the club Secretary and chairman, Christian Chukwu. The details are on the LMC social media platforms – check for yourself. It however leaves me with the conclusion – one major problem in Nigeria is that we have a lot of square pegs in round holes. 

Today’s thoughts aren’t on Rangers – it’s a waste of breath and this is not because of my likeness for Imama. This is an Enyimba blog and keeping our thoughts here firmly on Enyimba today would help immensely. I’ll like to mention though that we have a big announcement to make in the coming days – we are working tirelessly to alter a couple of things and hopefully by the start of the new week, we should be all set. The guys involved are staying awake night and day. Yeah, Right. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about our prodigal son. The one who left his father’s house to go flirt with the riches and the Oil of the Rivers. I’m talking Nzube Anaezemba. I’ve not hidden my admiration for the diminutive midfielder over the years and while I write this, I’ll also like to point out that I’m not privy to circumstances or agreements in place while he left but having been deemed surplus to requirements at Rivers United, can he do a Chinonso Okonkwo and return? 

Whatever is happening at Rivers United and why Nzube doesn’t play anymore is anyone’s guess. A shrewd manager looking for what will work would readily refresh his mind on how the early season successes came about. Nzube was instrumental to United’s good early season form. Now he doesn’t even see games nor does he even see the bench. He’s rarely appreciated for his worth – and let’s be honest, it’s not just Nzube that has found himself shunted out of the team.

Perhaps we can work toward bringing him back at the club. Let’s think about it – Ibenegbu has been amazing this season. He already is an early runner for Enyimba’s player of the season for me, but we know how badly we struggle when he is not there. Oladapo, as good as he can be, hasn’t really challenged Ibenegbu in the attacking midfielder role and the new guy Franco had barely even seen action. Does the club have as much patience as he seemingly requires? Time will tell. 

Nzube however looks a good fit for the role. I’ve not spoken with him nor is this post a platform for people to pay for soliciting their case, I’m just thinking of what can improve in our team technically. It would be sad if we are seeing Nzube in the same light that the folks at Rivers United are seeing him now. I, for one, don’t believe his career is on the decline or is over and I hope we can make a move to bring him back at the club. It would be shame if he turns the new Abdulrahman Bashir. 

I’m not sure what the terms of Nzube leaving the club was, nor do I know if he burnt his bridges with Enyimba. But if he can be gotten back, please we need to get the process in motion. The experience, quality and connection to the club is there – if he can be, let’s get him back home. I know he would argue that his home is Ondo State where his family lives and where he started out his football career but Nzube and Enyimba are a union made in the skies. 

That’s all for today guys. We are in Ibadan for the big one on Sunday. 

Enjoy your weekend guys. Back tomorrow with that preview. 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Imama’s arrest: Here is what really happened 

You must have heard that Coach Imama title winning coach of Enugu Rangers was arrested a few days ago. By who? The people he ended their 32 year old wait for a trophy. I can’t even begin to tell how that sickens me. Someone asked on social media; Is this how your country honors her heroes? Don’t answer, just ponder over that. 

In the meantime, here is what really transpired. Credits to Colin Udoh for this piece. 

So here is what happened between Imama and Rangers.

PART 1

After he was fired, Imama wrote to the LMC alleging wrongful termination of contract. Both parties were invited by the LMC to state their cases. Imama appeared for himself. Rangers Secretary Joseph Onwukwe represented the club.

I will come to that story fully later.

In the meantime, Imama had handed over the keys to his apartment to the estate security, but kept hold of the car pending the conclusion of the dispute resolution, according to him, until he gets his money.

In my opinion, was wrong on both fronts. 
Although Imama has a right by law to hold as lien any property for money being owed him, he should he should have surrendered the car when he took the case to arbitration. If you trust the system to right your injury, then you must go to equity with clean hands.

On the apartment, he did not follow procedure in having an inventory done before handing over the keys to the estate security. What if the security took advantage to get into the property and remove items there?
Or what if some mischievous Rangers official decides to collude with the security and go in there to remove items/wreck the apartment before an official handover?

Rangers claimed they wrote to Imama 5 times to ask him to return the property. He ignored them.

Imama did not deny it. 

Irrespective of that, Rangers were also wrong to have had him arrested and kept overnight in a cell. That is grounds for legal action.

Like Imama, they should have waited for the decision of the dispute resolution.

PART 2: ARBITRATION AND DECISION

Imama claimed that he was wrongfully terminated by Rangers and should be paid compensation for the remainder of the contract period as stipulated by the contract.

Rangers, on their part, argued that the coach was properly terminated because he was provided an enabling environment to work and was therefore not entitled to compensation for the termination of the contract.

According to Rangers, Amapakabo breached Clause 7 of his contract by ‘failing to perform’.

And this is where it gets interesting.

7.6 states: the proprietor shall terminate the contract of the coach on grounds of misconduct or failure to perform but must have to provide the coach with materials thus shall enable him to perform.”  
Remember Rangers claimed that Imama was fired for ‘failure to perform’,so we go up to Clause 1.10 of the contract to find the definition of Failure to Perform

Clause 1.10 defines ‘failure to perform’ on the part of the coach as

“Inability…to impart football knowledge on the players or several defeats of the team due to his own fault”

On the part of management, ‘failure to perform’ is defined as

“Failure of management to provide adequate motivation including payment of allowances and salaries when due, provision of logistics, etc”

I am no lawyer but I will refrain from commenting on the ambiguous, open-ended wording of many parts of this contract.

Imama argued that the several defeats were due to the club’s ‘failure to perform’ by not paying players’ wages on time, limited registration of players leading to injuries (viz not providing him with materials needed to perform) leading to a squad decimated by injuries.

In their response, AND THIS IS HILARIOUS, Rangers via a letter written by THEIR LAWYERS, claimed that ‘it is not the only club that owe her players in Nigeria’!

Just read that again and let it sink in. This, my friends, is where my jaw dropped all the way to the floor. It is still there. 

To cut a long story short, on that basis, Rangers were found to have wrongly terminated Imama’s contract.

The coach was awarded his two months outstanding salaries, his N600K in outstanding bonuses and allowances, and his $940 in international traveling allowances.

For the compensation, Art 7.8 is clear

“In case of flagrant misconduct on the part of the management, the Head Coach shall be entitled to his full payment of the contract sum for the period aforesaid.”

So that means Rangers are in hock to Imama for the sum of N38 million if Chukwu’s statement that his salary was N2 million a month.

However, both parties were asked to go and come to an amicable settlement on compensation.

Rather than go for the settlement, Rangers had Imama arrested.

That’s the Koko. 

Shame on you Rangers. May everyone of your responsible for this show of shame reap a thousand fold reward of your seed. It’s no curse- it’s only reiterating the laws of nature. Seed time and Harvest shall never cease. The LMC has made a decision on the case. It’s on their website. Once more a big shame to  Rangers. 

Back tomorrow with Enyimba related info. 

‘EnyimbaEnyi
 

 

Enyimba 2-1 Lobi: Oh, we have Andre Pirlo 

Revenge is best served with a glass of cold kunu. I’m unsure of where those words came from but those were our tweets at full time. Lobi and Tony Okpotu had us wondering how to make sense of dropped points at home at this crucial point of the season, but our big guys lived up to the hype and goals from captain fantastic, Mfon Udoh and ageless tireless Andre Pirlo Ikechukwu Ibenegbu aka Mosquito completed the turnaround. 

Yesterday’s blog arrived quite late and rather than the usual rant, we felt led to talk about memories and what a pain in the bumbum Lobi had become in recent times. With the poor pitch of the UJ Esuene and the emptiness of it and the knowledge that Benue has borders with Calabar compared with us on the other side and separated by Akwa Ibom, it looked like we were really the away side. 

The lineup wasn’t spectacular. It was just about normal except the return to action of Ikechukwu Ibenegbu and the suspension of Stephen Chukwude. Andrew and Ikouwem continued at both fullback positions and Ghanaian International, Fatau Dauda was in goal. Just a little above a quarter of an hour played, we found ourselves a goal down. Kester’s poor attempt at a back pass found the wrong shirt- Okpotu was never gonna miss. Certainly not a man who had notched 65 goals for Lobi. 

Talk about a mountain to climb- I’ve seen Lobi defend their lives away in hostile territory. I’ve seen them beat Rangers in Enugu and get a draw off Rivers United/Dolphins in Port Harcourt. Lobi isn’t a team you wish to find yourself looking to get a goal against. I muttered to myself – here, watch our very slim Continental dreams puff off in smokes. But the updates said we were fighting. Ok, a draw then maybe, I hoped. 

Second half started.  Waited, no show. And the minutes were flying by-  50 then 60 then 70 and then 80th minute. Lobi still had the lead. It was disappearing now. We had bottled it yet again. I started picturing the blog for the next day and the rage it would bear. Then out of the blues- GOOOOOOOOAL, the club official handle tweeted. Underneath it, it was 1-1. Mfon Udoh had sent his marker on errands and fired us level. 

Alas, too late I thought. A share of the spoils. It still had the disappointment of losing touch with the leading pack. Then some fellow felled Leonard right at the edge of the area. Mosquito territory. He had done it in back to back home games now and could he wave those gracious boots once again? Yes was the answer – Ibenegbu curled it, over the wall and into the top corner. 

There was no calming the joys of the Enyimba faithful following the game all across the globe. I screamed from where I was- my collegues wanted to know if I was okay. Yes, I was. Somehow we had salvaged the three points right at the death. A game I had long lost hopes of a three points. And it was that man again, Mosquito, who since his signing for us has brought his quality to the fore. On a second missionary journey to Enyimba but a rare breed, one of the League’s finests. 

Lobi hurt us February 26th 2017 when they downed 10 man Enyimba in the 93rd minute in Makurdi. And here they were few minutes from stoppage time and they leave with absolutely nothing in the bag. Yea guys, that’s how it felt on that sad Sunday evening. We had thought, yea we’re getting three points from Makurdi. And then, ok maybe a point. Till that late goal snatched it all from us. This is how it felt guys – have a taste of it. Some kunu to gulp it down. 

It’s also good to note that we didn’t need dodgy penalties like certain teams do to get back in the game. We wanna beat you, we beat you cleanly – that’s another reason why this victory should be noised even louder. This is also why when we get in the Continent, we give a good account of ourselves. This is what makes us Enyimba International, Nigeria’s most successful club.

Yes and our away form needs to improve though. But that is talk for another day. 

Savour this win guys – it’s no mean feat. 

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Enyimba vs Lobi: Take the Memories with you 

I went on a dinner to a very fine restaurant on Monday evening. This very nice man and father of one of my friends took us out to eat. It was a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. And although the good boy in me made me resist the urge to ask for more, I had a great time on and with the food nonetheless. Aren’t you grateful for food? Aren’t you thankful that for all the pain in the world, there is such a thing as food? Thank God. 

As we parted, i said to myself, don’t forget this experience. I knew I never will. I know that for every time I drive past that restaurant, I will refresh memories of what it was like. Maybe I may not be able to afford eating there everyday but like boys II men sang- “and I’ll take with me the memories”. How does this even relate to Enyimba’s Match Day 30 clash today? In a bit. 

Last season, we played Lobi Stars in Umuahia. It was the worst performance I have seen from an Enyimba team ever. Joshua Enaholo was in goal that day and Lobi fired four past us. Half of those goals were ruled out as offside – they did look marginally offside. In other climes or in away fixtures, those goals would have stood. Abu Azeez and Chinedu Udoji got a goal each for us. Full time Enyimba 2-2 Lobi Stars.

The return fixture in Makirdi that year was one of our most impressive performances last season. They got an early offside (remember me :)) goal early in the game and the referee referred in such a way that we couldn’t be allowed to get an equalizer. We gave them a good game but we couldn’t win or draw level. We left Makurdi empty handed. 

Earlier this season, we were away at Makurdi and we looked set to get something from that game. It was a game Ogunbite deployed three central midfielders and we dictated play for large periods. Then we took the lead. And then Kelly Kester got sent off. Lobi equalized just after the halftime interval and David Tyarvkase I believe it was, broke our hearts with a late goal. We left empty handed. 

Today as we ready to play Lobi in a few hours, let us take with us memories. Memories of the kind of threat they pose when they play away from home. Memories of how we have been unlucky and fruitless at their place in very recent times. Let us also take along with us, memories of what happened in Nnewi at the weekend, with a mindset of putting it behind us by bouncing back. 

Aside the memories, let us also take pictures of the dream finish we are looking for this season. Let us keep our goal of getting back in third. Only a win will do that. 

Updates are at the usual channels.

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

We could try something different

I wasn’t sure I would be back on the blog after yesterday’s post. I literally poured out my heart and if you’re a regular on this site, you know we don’t propagate our club as perfect and the rest as devils. We hit hard at our club Enyimba often- the players, management and technical crew when the need for it arises. It is not our nature to look the other way when the club goofs. 

One of the reasons why we proudly keep this blog running is that there is no hidden undertone or what you may refer to as the puppet of the club- the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob thing. We don’t use this as a platform to receive money from the club while propagating their message. And let me also announce that AT NO TIME HAS THE CLUB APPROACHED US FOR THIS REASON. Just so we are clear. 

Today’s thoughts however is inspired by the young man we brought in in mid-season. He’s called Franco and according to what we have heard so far, he is a creative/attacking midfielder. I did think he would get a starting berth with Ibenegbu suspended at the weekend but no he only got a rare appearance on the bench. I think he was brought on late in the second half but he didn’t make the impact we wanted. 

Someday we will understand how signings are made at the club. Before I go on, I must say, there have been some good ones nonetheless. You look at guys like Nelson Ogbonnaya, Ibrahim Mustapha, Stanley Dimgba and Fatau Dauda as some of the better signings this season. There have been some others too who haven’t really impressed as much. Perhaps due to a lack of game time by the manager. 

You can also perhaps make excuses for a lack of use by the manager on these players who have barely played well for us. There is what you can term a natural pressure on Enyimba hence the margin for error is little. So if these guys are far from convincing in training then most likely they won’t get the nod. But then, if the average home game is hardly a place for such experiments, how about the away games? 

Let’s say you have an way game where chances are that you would lose, whatever stops the gaffer from trying out something different? Ibenegbu for instance can’t be deployed in every away game- why not try out his “synonyms” in such grounds? I feel Franco is probably a better Ibenegbu than Oladapo, so why not start him? Why do we not even try to play a 4-5-1 or a 4-4-1-1 away from home? 

Why play two strikers who won’t get the balls anyway? We have some good ball playing midfielders, why not deploy them to soak up the pressure and see if we can hit on the break? 4-4-2 we play all the time can’t always work. Okpako, Kester, Ichull, Dare, Oladapo, Ibenegbu, Franco – we inarguably have the best midfield. Isn’t it time we did something with it? 

Maybe we can’t experiment at home, but we can on a ground where we have very little chance of a point. Isn’t it time we tried something different?

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Don’t let this result bother you, this is how we are going to win the League

Breaking News Guys: The Sky is Blue. After the outrage against Enyimba “the big teams” which spanned all through last week, you would expect that all the “saints” crying wolf wouldn’t meddle with foul means to get the three points. Sorry guys, the leopard won’t wash off its spots. Can’t actually. The noise is died down now and shockingly no one is saying what they should. 

Match Day 29 offered us no points. I’ll leave our hosts to savor their victory however way it came. It would be nice to see match videos when it is possible to. I did see Tornadoes match winning penalty in Lokoja. Well done guys. Just remembered that this is that time of the season when teams who are not even good enough to win before their own fans want to get Continental tickets which they would of course throw away unspectacularly in North Africa. 

When we write and rant and wonder how our teams fail to do well in the Continent, we fail to point out what we know is the problem in the League. Coaching is non-existent, referees decide outcomes, Ogas behind the seats determine who gets Continental tickets. The players themselves just show up knowing that on away turf, the referee could just pull a rabbit out of the hat. And at home, regardless of how badly they play, they’re still gonna win the game. 

Someday we will become ready. That day isn’t here yet. That’s why nobody takes us seriously, not even we ourselves. Otherwise why justify the fact that teams rarely take records and stars of their own team. Last week, it was Enyimba claiming they didn’t know their player was supposed to be suspended. We adore the European leagues – but no one asks, how are they this good and celebrated? No one asks why our League games aren’t even on TV anymore. 

Most of us started following the League because we want to promote and support our own thing. Today we look back and we wonder if the efforts are even worth it. This is why players and other such League personnel jump ship at the slightest chance of something better. Our referees are not even recognized in Africa and when one of them manages to get a posting, it is celebrated in the same manner as the homecoming of the prodigal son. 

You think the powers that be are even bothered? These are individuals who happily stayed on as chairmen of clubs and not bothered that their teams are playing in empty match venues. As long as the government kept releasing funds. They’ll pay salaries they wish to and pocket the ones they feel like.  These are guys who cannot even attract half a sponsor to their football clubs. They want to play in the Continent and sadly can’t even live long enough in the competition to arrive at the lucrative stages.  

One day we would have a League, but until then, let’s keep enduring enjoying the sham we currently have. 

Obiozor moves to Orlando Pirates

Well, no one saw that coming but Orlando Pirates have announced the signing of Enyimba Striker Christian Obiozor.

South Africa media had it that the striker was to be signed by Enyimba’s last season Champion’s League opponents Mamelodi Sundowns but Orlando Pirates reacted faster and made a swoop for the big man.

Obiozor was one of the key players in Kadiri Ikhana’s title winning season two seasons ago and had been much sought after since his move from Enugu Rangers to Kano Pillars and subsequently Enyimba.

A matchday 19 injury in a 2-1 away win against former team Rangers kept him out for the rest of that season but he has been nursed back to fitness and this new chapter would be an interesting one for his career.

He should hit the ground running hopefully and he would be a brilliant addition to the PSL

Everyone at ThatEnyimbaFan wishes Obiozor all the best in his new career phase. IMG_0644.JPG

The CHAN list, one last time. 

What a week. Doubt if we have reviewed a game here on the blog for a whole week like this. Gratefully, we have this issue now sorted and we can actually move onto other things. On the horizon is a clash with FC IfeanyiUbah in Nnewi and that is another very big clash. For over 12 years, we have failed to get any kind of point from there. Anyway, that’s not the theme for the blog today.

Today I briefly want to highlight the CHAN list and the implications from an Enyimba POV. It’s only a list for the qualifiers right now but you know there a very high chance that that’s the bulk of the bunch heading out for CHAN should we qualify. Coach Yusuf and his technical guys have put out a decent list albeit laden with a few questions here and there.

Safe hands Theo made the cut, he will battle Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Dele Ajiboye and Okiemute Odah for the starting role. Who is the best of the quartet? If you ask me, I don’t think the answer is “Safe hands Theo”. It’s really not my call to make and I am grateful because of that.

Chima Akas is rated one of the best left backs in the League and he has a second chance to CHAN glory following the debacle of the last edition. He would need a much more assured and composed personal performance and if I were him, I would get back to practicing those free kicks. One benefit of CHAN is that it offers a good chance at a move within the Continent at least.
Mfon Udoh is the third and final Enyimba name on Salisu’s list. We have said and written tonnes on him and this tournament (if we go thru) presents one last audition and chance for him to get his dream move. But like we all know, you don’t just wake up and show up for the games- you have to prove your mettle. You’re gonna have to earn and justify your selection.

Everyman will have opportunities. Opportunities to show what you are capable of on the big stage.  Trouble is, ensure you are ready. Create special times for yourself. Get back to running again, and say No to distractions. Hardwork and diligence means anyone can schedule their own promotion.

Final on the cut is Rabiu Ali the one they call Pele. I’m glad he has another chance for redemption. Ultimately though, we can ignore the flaws in the list and give our support our guys as we ready for CHAN. For the ones who didn’t get called…stay strong and keep working hard. God’s plans are always best if we let him guide us.

That’s all for today guys.

Back tomorrow

‘EnyinbaEnyi

It was really nice doing business with you

I really do feel naughty right now so maybe I’ll taunt Tornadoes a little bit. Before I go on, I’ll like to say, don’t read this post if you haven’t read my blogposts from earlier today and yesterday. It’s common practice for people to make their judgments without getting their facts straight. So please, read through those first before you go on.

That said, I’ll really like to laugh a little bit at Tornadoes. I remember vividly playing them in Lokoja last season. That game, we fielded Musa Najare and Alloy Brown as our strikers. And yea, it was my first game as an Enyimba official (I resigned at the end of the season for those who are unaware). 

After the first half and it looked like we wouldn’t be getting a win in the game, Coach Aigbogun instructed the team to go all defensive for a point and defensive we went. They toiled in a bid to get a result but we held firm. They weren’t playing particularly well because they were barely threatening. Afelokhai barely had a save to make. 

With that not working, they decided to work some magic. Some player hauled a throw into the box and a Tornadoes player fell face down into the area like he was shot from behind. There was no Enyimba player anywhere close to him. But the referee pointed to the spot. Pandemonium broke. 

The Enyimba bench reacted. The Enyimba Masseur took laws into his hands and flew into the pitch. He walked up to the referee to confront him. It was later said that he hit or slapped the referee or something. I didn’t see it because so much was happening at the same time. Maybe he did because the club later released a statement distancing itself from his actions and he would later get a ban till the end of the year and Dare who also got involved somehow got a three match ban as well. 

When calm was restored, Tornadoes took their spotkick and that was it. I never felt more annoyed in a football game as I did that day. I think the referee was reported and probably suspended again (the game was his comeback game from suspension after his poor officiating in Sunshine vs Enyimba in Akure). I couldn’t write my official match report. Everyone was distraught. There were even whispers that Enyimba was going to pull out of the League on account of perceived injustices. 

I always felt someday Tornadoes will get served their own dose of football injustice someday. And this verdict, as much as I’ve criticized it, feels like it has just done that. In all honesty, they can have absolutely no complaints. For a side that got 12 spot kicks in 19 home games last season with just one point on the road – away at Kano Pillars on the last day of the season, here’s to you, enjoy your precious three points on the road that never came. 

DISCLAIMER: No animals were killed in the production of this movie. 

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