Match Preview: Enyimba vs El Kanemi 

Yesterday’s post got us quite the unusual (even though not totally unexpected) reaction. Phone calls from people who feel they should get the nod for the CHAN. It was funny really because what the author of the post yesterday (of course you’re all aware I’m not the author) did was to make recommendations on who he feels is good enough for the Championship. And the mob got to him. 

Then of course there is this thought currently gathering steam, that players from the lower cadre of the League strata (The NNL) should be part of the party too. Nothing wey person no go see for this Continenet! Why not we throw the doors open to accommodate the kids playing at Etche Road Primary School fields as well? Let’s hear something else abeg. 

We actually have a game today and that was the prime reason for this blog today. We could address that. We play El-Kanemi Warriors in Calabar and a glance at our placing on the log says all that needs to be as per how important this game is. This is that time of the season where nobody wants to drop points at home – I hope y’all got the memo, Enyimba players?  

So for the second time this season, Ibrahim Mustafa and Chinedu Ohanachom are facing their former clubs. Will that give them some extra bite to fight? Meanwhile, isn’t it strange that Ohanachom hasn’t done so much unlike his teammate Mustafa. Perhaps the coach… has got his plans and at such we can ignore the temptation to delve into any assumptions. 

Ladan Bosso and his wards are chasing a Continental ticket and on a neutral ground, he would wanna try his luck. Hence we cannot feel like we have won before getting onto the pitch. This should be a routine 2-0 win but for that to happen, we have to make a good start, get an early goal to settle nerves. 

As I said earlier, the catch is getting back into the 3rd/4th position and a win here will do our cause some good. Its impossible to predict lineups but the squad that will be announced will tell what the injury situation in the camp. For example, Is Anaemena back? Or would we be seeing Theo back in goal soon? 

Like I said, this should be an easy home win, I pray we don’t make mistakes or fluff our chances and find ourselves chasing the game with the visitors defending with their lives. Nice early start and a goal to soothe our nerves and we can then watch without getting any kind of anxiety. Who else would love that? 

That’s it for the blog today. Meanwhile today’s Nnanna Kalu’s birthday. Let’s show him some love guys. May God bless you abundantly Sir. 

Back tomorrow 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

CHAN: Open letter to Salisu Yusuff 

Dear Coachito,

Sincere condolences on the loss of your mother and Happy Sallah celebrations.

I’m sure you’re aware that the month of July is the only one covering your all important assignment with the Home-based Super Eagles as your first competitive game comes up on August 11.

Since you’re not new to this as well, I’m sure you know that assembling a quality squad of home based players requires a lot of training and camping time so the time to put your hands on deck is NOW!

As you know, we are an unforgiving nation and nobody will make excuses for you about the NFF’s failure to provide you with necessary ingredients for the task ahead. Nigerians will log it in for you as failure if you fail, God forbid!

Well, having watched no fewer than 35 league games since the start of the season and having also watched each of the 20 teams at least twice, I bring forward a list of some credible, extremely consistent and non-sentimental 23 players which of course you can add “your players” if many of them are not there already. 

Have a look-in

GK: Sunday Rotimi – Ikechukwu Ezenwa – Ojo Olorunleke

RB: Osas Okoro (sub: Ifeanyi Nweke)

LB: Daniel Itodo (sub: Chukwuebuka Anaekwe)

DM: Kelly Kester (sub: Jimmy Ambrose)

CB: Orji Kalu (sub: Emmanuel Ariwa)

CB: Nelson Ogbonnaya (sub: Jamiu Alimi)

RW: Sikiru Olatunbosun (sub: Etor Daniel)

CM: Lazarus Fan (sub: Shedrack Asiegbu)

CF: Sunday Adetunji (sub: Stephen Odey)

AM: Alhassan Ibrahim (sub: Chukwuka Onuwa)

LW: Stanley Dimgba (sub: King Osanga)

Once again, do not forget that you need ample time in training these players as you will have to emphasize on things they don’t teach them in our clubs.

The LMC Calendar for the second stanza also helps you to have the players from Monday – Friday since there are only one midweek game in each month till the end of the season.

I wish you the best of luck in your assignment.

Your fan,ALOHA 

Enyimba? There’s absolutely nothing to say about the club. When there’s something newsworthy and of good report, we’d share here. 

Have a great day everyone. 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Bashir: Did Enyimba make a mistake by letting him leave? 

Our Sunday’s match report here in the blog ended only in the first half and then the ugly incidents of the interval. Soon after the restart, Nasarawa United finally took the lead. It was always coming and beyond a shadow of doubt, Nasarawa was the better side on Sunday. But that was never the bone of contention- a home side is expected to show more attacking intent, shouldn’t they?  

Trouble is, it was Abdulrahman Bashir who decided the encounter yet again. Like a script from a movie, it had to be him. That is the third game in four fixtures that he either scored or contributed an assist against us. He does love playing against a team that lost hope with him and his injuries and shipped him out to Nasarawa United for a swap with Ugochukwu Leonard.

This same fixture last year, he netted the winner. Then the Federation Cup semifinals in Ibadan, where his tussle with Afelokhai saw us give away a penalty. And Seun Sogbeso dispatched the resultant spotkick and our hopes of a trophy last season was coffined in. But he does love scoring against us, Bashir, I mean, doesn’t he?

Which leads me to wondering how things might have turned out if we had stuck with him. For those who don’t know. A couple of seasons ago, we signed up Bashir and after an explosive Super 4, he was to lead the line for us. But after a horrible injury, his season was cut short. Enyimba nursed him back to fitness – he was out for over nine months. 

At the end of the rehabilitation process, Bashir was thrust into action again. But maybe due to the lengthy layoff, he didn’t look like he would hit those heights yet again. Bereft of confidence and severely lacking match action and fitness, the club wondered if keeping him on their books with little or no returns was worth it. A decision had to be made. 

Nasarawa had a striker who was in beastly mode the season concluding and Enyimba wanted him. A deal was agreed- Leonard and Bashir swapped places and you know the rest of it. Leonard hasn’t done too badly himself – but joining Enyimba meant he wasn’t guaranteed starts that often like he was in Nasarawa. So goals haven’t been pouring in like expected. 

Anyone can pass judgement by virtue of hindsight. But we can’t really blame the club- they moved to do what was best or what they thought was best for the club. This time, it backfired and lo, he’s our new Nasarawa nemesis. No blames on the management – nobody saw this coming. You would be one with the highest faith ever to believe that Bashir would be this good again. 

Perhaps this is why Enyimba keeps trusting that Obiozor would make a perfect recovery and get back to being the best we know he’s capable of. I think he would – but hardly do people become world beaters by merely wishing so. It takes faith, hardwork, commitment and discipline to get there. I’m pretty much certain that’s exactly how Abdulrahman Bashir did it. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Well, here is what happened in Lafia on Sunday

Yesterday’s blog, yeah? Interesting reactions. Both on Facebook, on the blog, on Twitter and other media outlets. The sun has already gone down, so my anger is all gone now. But I did locate an independent observer who was at the game on Sunday. He gives his account of what went down at the Lafia Stadium on Sunday. Be the judge, y’all. 

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What happened at half time? 

1. So the first half ends and the fans immediately besiege the entrance to the dressing room, trying to gain access to the referees. The police have to physically restrain them and all. There is literally no way through that gate for anyone to pass.

2. This goes on for a couple of minutes. When the Enyimba coach sees how it is going, rather than waste further time, he orders his players to the side of the pitch and they sit on the floor. He conducts his team talk. 

3. Fearful for their safety (and probably on advice from the security operatives), the referees remain out on the pitch.

4. Some minutes later, the Nasarawa players come, and the crowd manages to clear and allow them through. Things then quiet down. 

5. But the referees still (wisely) don’t go. They remain on the pitch all through the halftime break. Enyimba coach and his team too remain on the pitch. Because he has already started his team talk, he remains where they are and finish it.

That’s what happened at half time. Simply.

How about the 3 penalty calls alledged by Nasarawa? 

No, there weren’t 3 clear penalty calls in the first half. I dare them to produce videos of such. There was only one contentious call. Sadly, there are no video replays in our league, so to even say it was “clear” is highly subjective. 

The Nasarawa striker made his way to the box, Enyimba defender, I think it was Gbadebo that brought him down. It looked like the bringing down was on the line to me, and the referee gave a free kick. Mind you, it was on the far side from the VIP stand, so no one can claim there was a clear view at all. 

Was it a penalty? I don’t think so. I think the Freekick the referee awarded was the right call. The fact that a player falls in the box does not mean the contact was made in the box.

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Thank you for speaking with ThatEnyimbaFan. 

Finally, Nasarawa claimed nothing happened and this is part of a quote from them (The full thing can be found here) “the security personnel were all there too so I see no reason why anybody will descend on his players. The decision got everybody surprised but in truth the center referee caused EVERYTHING, his officiating on Sunday was way below average”.

So my Question is: what does EVERYTHING in the statement above mean? Educate me, people who know. 

That’s all. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Nasarawa United? Shame on you!!!

Part 1

It would be a very fat lie (you know, bursting at the seams kind of fat? Yeah, right) if I told you is had expected any kind of result in Lafia yesterday. I knew it was one of those games where we could as well have failed to honour the game because getting any kind of point there was going to be impossible. Such was my faithlessness. 

And when the lineups was released, it looked like we were going ultra defensive. Ichull, Dare and Ibenegbu in midfield, Mfon, Mustapha and Dimgba the more offensive minded players with the back five as Dauda, Akas, Onamado, Ogbonnaya and Gbadebo Samson. The later just reminded me- he with Ichull and Leonard in the bench were ex-Nasarawa. 

The reunion would be complete with Abdulrahman Bashir and Thomas Zenke, former Enyimba players now playing for the “enemy”. More on Bashir later. We had injury concerns at the back – our solid looking Center Back partnership was depleted and Gbadebo was drafted in to pair Ogbonnaya with Anaemena missing out.

We got off to a flier or so it seemed cos the first ten minutes we did play with intent. A couple of chances in which we could’ve taken the lead but we failed to. Nasarawa then took over and for the most of the half it was a one team playing and the other defending. Then came the moment right at the stroke of halftime when we went close at the other end but our skippers effort couldn’t beat their goalie. 

Part 2 

Nasarawa United then showed the world why it is a big mistake that they are referred to as a professional football club. Their fans thugs ensured that neither the visiting team nor the match officials could access the dressing room at half time. Ogunbote and his boys had halftime right at the substitutes bench. My first reaction to Nasarawa’s stupidity is to ask if this is how they are treated when they play away from home. 

I remember a game in Uyo in which I was the LMC Match Delegate and I saw this same Nasarawa United make trouble with Akwa United, accusing them of switching off the floodlights and ensuring they didn’t train for their fixture the following evening. Truth was, the Akwa Ibom State government was owing the contractors and they did not even let the home side, Akwa United to even train. Yet these rascals made trouble that day cos of it. 

Now they show their nobility by locking out the visiting team and match officials from accessing their dressing room at the break. Hang your heads out in shame everyone of you. Everyone that represents Nasarawa United- you are a shame to football. When you ended Pillars and Sunshine’s unbeaten runs, nobody locked you outside. I’ll repeat, you are a disgrace to the game. 

You’ve got your three points but how ironic that on a day the world celebrates Fathers Day, you failed to even show any sign of manhood about yourselves. Make it to the Continent again if you can, it is guaranteed that you won’t even play more than a game – just like the last time. 

One more time, shame! 

Again, Shame! 

Again, Shame!!

Again, Shame!!!

I feel lighter now. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Enyimba’s Future: what we must do right now

Writing a blog when feeling heartbroken isn’t something I enjoy doing. I always feel it would make me communicate the heartache I feel indirectly to my audience and that’s not a nice way to start out someone’s day. Just before you ask, the heartbreak is not “girl-related”- it is primarily due to the horrors ongoing in our world daily. Y’all hearing of the terrorists attacks in several countries daily and the kidnappings in our country. 

 There’s political unrest and uncertainties in most countries but worst off for me is how young people today are embracing all kinds of evil and crime. A guy killed his girlfriend because of a comment her ex made on her social media account. These things break my heart. If you didn’t know it, I’ll help announce to you- these are the very last days for man on earth. Get your life fixed with God. 

From an Enyimba standpoint, things are getting busier and rosier a little bit. We have put together an impressive run and although we have slipped down to fourth- as Lobi edged Rivers United yesterday, but we still remain five points off the leading pack. What a grandstand finish this title race is looking. 

Today’s thoughts however is on the need for the club to build on the current good feeling around the club now as a bid to heal the past and launch into our next level. Today we have a decent manager who looks like he knows his stuff, the fans are believing in the team again and for some time we can boast of something close to a decent squad.  

We had a lot of chopping and grafting last season and indeed at the start of the year but Ogunbote has concluded the experiments and he looks like he has us going in the right direction. So, we must build on this. We can’t afford to let the season end and we are signing 16 new players. We cannot afford to bring in players who look we have no plans for – players who we sign and then start wondering how they will fit into the squad. 

This is why I think Ogunbote has to be given a new contract before this season ends. We all know he signed for just one year at the start of the season and I believe the squad can perform even better with him at the helm. There’s a quiet confidence about the team and clearly the boys want to play for him. And if the season ends with him realizing he will stay for yet another year or more, he can adequately plan for a proper title challenge. A new manager simply means starting out this work all over. 

We do have a good number of promising players in the key positions and playing together under the gaffer’s tutorage will only help the squad. We could use some stability. We can’t get into the Champions League hoping the new players/coach will have benefited from a crash course on understanding each other. The days for major surgery should be behind us – our attention has to be on strengthening the squad rather than bringing in a fresh load of players and a new manager. 

We are getting out of the mire caused by the mistakes of the recent past and hopefully our stadium will be all set very soon.  We can take off from here with dreams of ruling the NPFL and making inroads in the Continent but all of that rests with keeping the squad together and retaining the manager. 

Back tomorrow with a Fathers Day special Match Preview

‘EnyimbaEnyi

It’s nothing short of a remarkable and laudable achievement

It’s not everyday that I get on this blog and admit that I stole a post word for word. But there’s no way you wouldn’t have stolen this post if you were in my shoes. And there’s no way you would be in my shoes if you have a shoe size of less than 47 or US 13W. It’s not something very commonly done in this climes but today, we take the time to give honour to whom it is due. Enjoy, below! 

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By Nnanna O.Kalu 

The numbers do not lie. For all strikers, it is about the numbers. As they say in football circles – the goals do the talking.

Mfon Udoh’s brace in a 2-1 victory over Abia Warriors last Sunday in Calabar, was reported in the media as routine goals in a home win. But those well taken goals moved Enyimba’s number 10, nearer to half-century of league goals in the colours of the Peoples Elephant, in less than four full seasons at the club. 

His record 23 league goals in his first season at Enyimba in 2014, and seven in the last two seasons-replete with mixed shades of injuries, droughts in the domestic scene and flourish in the continent, which culminated in his emergence as the top scorer with 9 goals in the CAF Champions league last term showed his quality and resilience. Udoh’s lob to double the lead in the local derby, his 10th in 18 league starts this season took his total league goals in Enyimba to 40. 

An average of 10 goals in a season. A remarkable achievement in a league where “One season Wonders” abound. The Enyimba captain has shown consistency in front of goal in the last 5 seasons,since he debuted in the top flight- Nigerian Professional football league with Akwa United. His solitary season with the Uyo based side yielded about 15 league goals in 2013. A feat that announced his talent and craft on the big stage,and in turn led to a scramble for his signature by the top clubs. 

Hitting double digits in three of the last five seasons in the elite league and 55 goals in the period under review (2012-17)- an average of 11 goals in a season deserves a worthy mention. 

In serious climes, data collection and analysis are getting more sophisticated and are deployed to weave stories around those behind the numbers, deepen the narratives and make commercial success of every feat attained and records equalled or broken. But in our clime, Clubs and the League Managment seem to look the other way.While resources that should be deployed to crunch the numbers, churn out credible data to attract and retain the interest of the teeming fans are expended on irrelevant items. The clubs and to a large the league can not be viable without projecting the players behind the big numbers as the poster boys of the league. 

In European leagues, available data form the basis of football commentaries. It is updated as new grounds are broken. Like In the English Premier league, strikers with a 100 or more league goals are celebrated as centurions,an exclusive club of proven goalscorers. But here, little or nothing is said about a striker whose glut of goals have won team laurels, individual gongs both in the domestic and continental scenes. An attempt to add available figures- 40 league goals, 9 in the CAF Champions league in 2016, 4 in 2014 FA Cup – including the winner in the final victory over Dolphins among others, If well documented could place Udoh on the path to attaining a club or national milestone. 

The goals are indeed doing the talking for Mfon Udoh.

All hail an absolute legend of the Nigerian league nay African club football.

I just couldn’t resist the urge to steal this. Kindly follow the author on Twitter @NnannaOKalu 

I’ll be back tomorrow 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Dare Ojo is back and other stories

The dust has settled in the debate as to whether or not we are Nigeria’s biggest club or we are living in the past glories. Whichever side of the fence you choose, you may not be wrong. I think we are both Nigeria’s biggest club and yes, we are also living in past glories in certain respects. Best in the country yes but also 24th in Africa.   

It’s not really a bid to have a go at the suits in the boardroom for the way the club is being run but we can expect more because we know the management has set the dyke so high that we know they are capable of more. If your son comes home from school with a report card showing he was the worst student in the class, what will make you offended is the fact that you know he/she is capable of more. 

Well, a lot is going on, especially with the weekend games on the horizon- let’s attack the ones we can. First up, defender/midfielder Dare Ojo has recovered from the injury that has seen us play two different players in that right back position. He is quoted on goal.com –

“I have been out for quite some time due to a hamstring injury I sustained. I am grateful to God that I am recovering fast and will soon return to first team training sessions. I have missed the game for the few periods I have stayed out but I am coming back with a bang,” 

“It was nice watching my team win and this has improved our position on the league table. We are going to continue to do our best knowing that it is only this that can deliver us a continental ticket at the end of the season.”

What eventually happens is anyone’s guess but it should give us a picture of what the technical crew think of new signing Goodluck Onamado and his performances in the recent past games. Has he done enough to keep Dare on the bench? Or will the midfielder get slotted back at the position? We shall see. 

The other piece of news is the Enyimba Whatsapp group I’ve taken charge of. I put up a post on Facebook, asking that people texted me at a particular number and I’ll add them. Yet some folks now went dropping their numbers on that post expecting me to copy and paste. I don’t even think they deserve a reply. 

The goal is to see how to get fans stay in touch with “goings on” at the club. And to mobilize when it is needed to ensure we don’t have a repeat of what happened during the Wonder Goal poll where we couldn’t get striker Ugochukwu Leonard 50 votes. It was shameful to say the least. 

That’s all I can muster this morning, 

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Another reason why Enyimba is Nigeria’s biggest club

There’s a reason why we are Nigeria’s most successful club side. I dare add to that by also saying that (although our management sucks can get better), we still remain Nigeria’s biggest club side. Yes we aren’t playing at home, and yes we have no website, and fans can’t find replica jerseys to buy – we have managed to stay big on one front. 

Four seasons ago, we battled the title with Kano Pillars which they won. The year afterward, it was Pillars and us again – they also won. They actually hoisted that title in Aba. Then the year after that it was us and Warri Wolves and Sunshine Stars (who even disappeared into thin air before they mounted anything like a challenge). We won that title. 

Last season was a brief exception and even at that we managed to stay within touching distance before our frail attempt at a challenge disappeared. But we were in the mix somehow – same can’t be said for the rest of the folks that we battled it with the previous seasons. Warri Wolves and Kano Pillars and Sunshine Stars and Nasarawa United – nowhere to be found. 

Last season was Rangers and Rivers United who finished first and second respectively. It was a “once in a blue moon” appearance for both sides and well this season, everyone now knows their true quality ***tongue out. Bottom half, relegation – that 3SC kinda thingy. That’s where they both truly belong. 

Somehow we do enough to stay within touching distance of the title every year. Remarkable consistency. Teams see us as a threat and if people are allowed to make preseason predictions, a good majority will have us in the title mix annually. That is no mean feat. This season, we see names like Plateau United, MFM and El-Kanemi Warriors in the enviable spots but look no far cos Enyimba is right there now in the thick of things. 

Being able to consistently challenge for the title annually is a factor that has made it silly for anyone to look at us as anything but a big team. Of course challenging for title and the quality of our play (shouldn’t be but they actually) are two different things. It does remind me of what Emma Anyanwu told me when I interviewed with him a few years ago. He said, when a player comes to Enyimba, there’s an orientation – he is told expressly by the older players that this team wins things. So all unseriousness is pushed aside and he is schooled in no small measure that Enyimba is all about winning for the fans. And this is why we are the biggest team in the country.

No doubt, we could use some quality coaching and consistent improvements. The suits in the boardroom must let this “bigness” seep into other areas of the team. Proper marketing and merchandise, better scouting and player development. Beef up and invest in our media team. Improve our structure and help the fans get closer to the club. All of this is necessary in the quest to build a truly big clubside. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

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