After what seems like eternity, I’m ready to talk about our strikers. The men whose duty it is to get the goals. I apologize that this post is coming at this time and I promise to make this as short as possible.
So how did our attack fare this season?
This season, our Attackers were in a Jekyll and Hyde mode all through. One minute Sibi Gwar, Bashri Abdulrahman, Andrew Abalogu and Mfon Udoh were demolishing Lobi Stars, the next moment, they had 16 shots against Giwa FC but could find no breakthrough. Two of the best games I saw at the Enyimba Stadium in the first half of the season were the dismantling of Rangers of Enugu and Lobi Stars of Markudi. In both games, we played well, netting five times over the course of the two games. Andrew will turn up at unexpected spots to hammer home crucial goals and Gwar’s movement kept dislodging opposing center backs giving room for the likes of Bashri and Mfon to have a go. But we were being inconsistent especially away. We lost our invincibility and unbeaten run at home to state rivals Warriors and on the road, we were as abysmal as can be. No wins and conceding late goals.
Zachary Baraje tried what he could but could not steady the ship. We lost crucial games to AFC Real Bamako that eventually sealed our fate in the Champions League, even though we won in the second leg. There was something definitely wrong with the creativity and goal scoring in the league. Against poor Kaduna United in Aba, we got the breakthrough through midfielder Sani Kaita who was on a three month loan. These crises led to the manager being suspended, leaving Coach Imama to handle the team. Even though his short stint was rewarding, before long Baraje got the nod again to continue.
Things however went worse when Kadiri Ikhana led Giwa FC to Aba. Baraje who at this time was unsure of his best eleven for the game was practically guessing at this time. Kaita was not named in the game reportedly injured and that was about the worst I saw us play last season. We had 16 shots in that game but most were off target and we eventually drew 0-0. The likes of Ifeanyi Ede and Raphael Boumsong took turns to miss chances that game and as I watched on the sidelines, I knew we needed to change a lot. That draw felt like a loss and ultimately Baraje was fired. Rangers came calling for Imama and he jumped boats.
Things got better with Kadiri Ikhana’s appointment as there was real fire in the team. The goals were coming albeit through Mfon Udoh. Boumsong still refused to score in the league and Bashri got injured. Ikhana did not trust Okoyoh much to give him games and Nonso Okonkwo was drifting in and out of games. Andrew Abalogu was playing but rather than improve on his early season form, he dwindled. Sibi Gwar left the shores of the country and we brought in Meshack Chukwubuikem from Rangers and Ahmed Musa Ismaila from Ranchers Bees. Both additions turned out to be just what we didn’t want as we ended up fielding Emeka Nwanna for most games towards the end of the season. Somehow though, Kadiri was getting the results and we continued our upward ascent.
We however ended the season winning the Federations Cup a week after trashing Kano Pillars in Aba. Mfon Udoh carrying the team as he did all season. This area is where we performed the worst and It is reflected in my rating for our performance. Notable mentions however to Chimezie Amanfor and Emeka Nwanna who supplied the goods when they were needed at the tail end of the season.
Talk about clearance sales, we must begin by looking at our attack. So many players failed to live up to the billing and rumors that Mfon Udoh might not be here next season means that we must get our recruitment spot on in this department.
Ahmed Musa Ismaila
Report Card Rating: D
Mfon Udoh Rating: A