Good morning all.
Well, when an Elephant goes scratching under a rock (Abeokuta), it is unlikely to find much edible. No surprises then that we came up dry hump – no points. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Nein. Ugatz (‘The Sopranos’. Sorry, I’ll behave now).
The gaffer named a strong starting lineup: Theo Afelokhai in goal, the expected back four with Uche John at right-back, a midfield of Nzube Anaezemba and Razak Aliyu, and a front four of Joseph Osadiaye, Mfon Udoh, Alloy Browne and Musa Najare.
There was no danger whatsoever of underestimating Ikorodu United. They may be in 19th, but they are the league’s form team. To go ahead twice, get pegged back on both occasions by the reigning champions, and still have the gumption to fight for and earn the winner; you wouldn’t think this is a team for whom, for pretty much most of the season, relegation has seemed a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Oga boys are unbeaten in five, you almost feel sad for them that this rally comes a little late in the day. Almost.
Until you realize you have pressing issues of your own. There is a sense of inertia to our beloved club, both on and off the pitch: everyone and everything seems to be marking time, waiting for something to happen. This malaise extended to our defence on the day as well; I struggle to remember the last time Enyimba conceded three goals in a single league game.
Indeed, all three were very well taken, but there are very few goals that are entirely unpreventable. If the opposition are taking such crisp shots from distance, it is because they’re getting the time to measure those efforts, and are under little to no pressure as they strike the ball. Go figure.
Their first was just past the midway point of the first half, to which we replied immediately from the spot through Mfon Udoh. Najare it was who was felled, and he was at the centre of all we did well on the day, getting on the scoresheet himself to level matters again in the second half. Then the curse of the ex-player struck soon after, via Michael Okoyoh.
It seemed almost cosmically scripted.
At this point in the season, even finishing within the continental places seems a long shot. It’s almost as if, as the club has become mired in the sort of issues it used to rise above, its air of invincibility has gone. No side picked up more points on the road than we did last season, now we’re only fifth-best by that metric. Allowing for the fact that we’ve suffered for not having the Enyimba International Stadium available, we have been underperforming on our travels too.
Could it be that the players have mentally stopped fighting, that they have conceded defeat this season in the hope of getting their act together next year? We are not in danger of relegation, after all, and we have the semi-final of the Federation Cup against FC Ifeanyi Ubah to look forward to. The winner of that competition gets a continental place; perhaps that is the understanding.
Ah, so much racking of the brain trying to figure out what is going wrong exactly. Let’s leave hypotheses for now, and briefly address the recent press release from the club regarding the suspension of a staff member. I think it sets a good precedent, and is an example of the high level of professionalism that Enyimba demands from all its employees. We cannot resort to violence, even in the face of perceived provocation. Man is far greater than his emotions.
Talk some more tomorrow.