He’s back! Yep, Long live the king 

Good morning Guys, 

Today, we chew over Mfon Udoh. Our prodigy and currently Nigeria League’s Goal King. Yes, I know the last part of that sentence rings untrue since it now feels like it was about half a century ago but until the record gets taken from him, he’s still the man. He’s been out of action since the end of last season and into this one but thankfully, according to news from the club’s media outlet, he is back and roaring to go. 

You can say this blog likes Mfon Udoh. Just like it did Nzube and now to Ikouwem and Franco (that’s if you’ve been watching us quite closely more recently). But that doesn’t mean they are immune to criticism. I do stand to be corrected but we still dish it out when needs be. There are a few too though who will feel like we were regularly too cruel on them like a certain…no name calling Sam. 

So Mfon is finally off his most current latest injury layoff. Here are quotes from his interview; 

“It has been a very difficult period for me, I must confess. Coming from injury, back to training right now. At first, when I had the injury, I thought I was never going to play again, because of the severe nature of the injury. Honestly, sometimes, I would wish I could borrow someone’s legs to go and play.”

 “You can’t just stay away. You have a hunger for the game, as a professional, and sometimes staying outside and watching my colleagues play, I thirst(ed) for the game. It made me want to come back as quick as I could. I have to applaud our medical crew, they have been awesome. From the beginning of the injury, they were there for me, they made sure I underwent all the necessary treatment. I’m so grateful to the players too, who have been supportive.”

“The inability to score goals in the team right now, I think it’s because we’re just starting. We have a bulk of new players getting to know each other. I think, as time goes on, we’ll blend. “But as for me I’m going to try my best. I’m going to join in, join forces with my players, and make sure we try as much as possible not to put the fans under pressure. I’m so glad right now that I’ve gotten back to my feet, I’ve started training, and I believe I’m going to come up strong. The most important thing is just to help my team.”

It’s more than welcome news for us especially also with the return of the CHAN contingent. For Mfon, he has become our poster boy and more than just that, he has equally supplied the goods – finishing last season as our top goal scorer as well. There’s just this unspoken expectation from fans that if we needed the goals and Mfon is on the pitch, we would score. 

We do know though that it’s much more than that. Mfon would need to keep himself fit and work himself all the way to the right rhythm. Like I’d always preached on this blog, there’s still some stuff in him yet to bubble to the fore. I know many claim he’s gone past his best, I for one believe if he can keep himself inspired and motivated, he can still outdo his record breaking season. 

I believe that to be a top athlete you would have to take good care of yourself. Your body, you mind and your inspiration. Because guess what? Without these three, you’re suddenly as important as any other man walking down the street. Factor in also how short a footballer’s career is. It’s over before you know it and if you hadn’t prepared adequately for it, you’re going to find it hard to pay for a night in a hotel room. And you didn’t get a college degree either, so getting a decent job becomes near impossible. 

We can pray all we can, but you have to look after yourself. Rid yourself of the lifestyle that presents itself a barrier to attaining your goal as a top athlete. It equally applies to every other area of life. How hungry are you to be top of the pile again? 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

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Getting ready for the Continent. 

Good morning Guys, 

I pray this post is short. I pray I’m able to control my impulse to just keep blabbing, why? Because I have to go to bed. I wake up at 5am and it’s almost 1am. Four hours of sleep is not enough, unless of course you’re Jack Bauer. But I’m not Jack Bauer and I do have quite a very busy Friday ahead of me. That and 7 inches of snow outside my door.

We are going to sit out action this weekend as the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup gets underway. We should be part of the Continental contingent but recent and consistent successes mean we have a bye for this first weekend. Our scheduled weekend opponents Plateau United are one one other three campaigners in action. 

All of this gets me thinking. The Continental campaign finally starts here. But how ready are we? Not only as an NPFL quartet but for us Enyimba, how set are we for the Continent? We have had a fair share of troubles – especially infront of goal. If this weekend came upon us as a CAF preliminary round. How would we fare?

I’m not trying to sound negative or recreating a negative atmosphere around the club but I guess it’s time we reminded ourselves that “there’s no room for rehearsing on stage”. Stanley Dimgba has bailed us out infront of goals in recent games. If our strikers keep misfiring, we will have a had time in the Continent. 

My point is, I hope Aigbogun 2.0 has got his act together  and he is paying heed to this mini goal drought our strikers are experiencing to fix it. Goals will win matches. And I doubt that Dimgba’s freak goal that stunned Abia Warriors will be a weekly thing. Away from home we will be under a lot of pressure if we aren’t scoring goals. 

The best time for us to start getting ready is right now. Because sooner rather than later, we will have an occasion where we are indeed called up and handed an opponent. Then we must show our true colors. 

I really need to go to bed right now. 

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Valentine Special; for you and dOnEuLoVe

Good morning, 

I hope you enjoyed our little CHAN talks for the past couple of days. We’re over the drubbing at Casablanca and our victories in Tangier, Agadir and Marrakech are some tiny little bits of consolation for our hearts. For all of you who missed hearing Enyimba issues, we are back. We missed you too. Lies. 

The barrage of midweek fixtures is finally over so those complaining can finally stop while players can have longer recovery time for themselves. They can you know, get back to the level of football the NPFL is due. Trust me, our league is a very difficult one with its specialties, and you need fresh legs to prosecute your games, especially if you nurse any kind of ambitions whatsoever.

In seven days (sounds like a movie title), it will be February 14th. Oh well, six days for some but whatever, it’s February 14th soon. This year’s is already packed with all kinds and forms of activities. For those who may not know it for anything else other than St. Valentine’s Day, it is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season, The French league champions will play the Spanish League champions and Nigeria’s biggest club will host the defending champions of the NPFL.

Yep. We found a way of joining the big guns all around the world who play on Valentine’s Day. We were expected to host high flying Plateau United this weekend in Calabar but for their first ever CAF Champions League game, the game gets moved to the next midweek. That means we have a longer time to recover and get one over them. In other words, we don’t even have any good enough excuses to not take this three points. 

If there is any match we need to win in a bid to make a statement, this is it! …and what an emphatic statement it will be if we win convincingly too. In Patience Ozokwo’s voice…”They’re now the team to beat, see Plateau United of yesterday o!” Ah well, we have become part of the chasing pack…Oh my dear Enyimba. 

Let us dream a little bit. Close your eyes for a minute and picture yourself watching Enyimba vs Plateau United at our fortress in Aba. It will gift us a chance to show our darling club how much we love her and we know she will always reciprocate such lovely gestures. Calabar residents have a chance to experience that show of love from our club and I guess they can grab it with all four limbs. At least for now. 

Where would you rather be on the 14th of February? Won’t you fancy a date with us? And don’t worry about your date, the other one. She is allowed to come along too!

Back tomorrow.
‘EnyimbaEnyi!

Interesting transfers: Comprenez vous? 

Success like failure can be predicted. Those were the wise words of my friend who I had a long but insightful conversation with two days ago. The theme of course was the CHAN and the fact that even ahead of the game, we knew it was going to take a miracle to beat Morocco. It wasn’t as much about the fans as is was the technical levels of both teams. Comprenez vous? 

We are a very religious people in Nigeria but God doesn’t always have the say in football matches. Sometimes he just sits in heaven and enjoys the game although he knows who would win before game is even scheduled. Nigeria has abundant football talent. But it does appear that our footballing talent as a country is like our oil. We have an insane amount of it, but we just can’t harness it to our advantage. 

In terms of talent, we can stand toe to toe with any footballing nation on earth. The trouble however is, sometimes, talent isn’t enough. How many of our Top flight clubs have functional academies? It’s sad to say that even my dear Enyimba doesn’t have. What we do have is a bunch of overaged players who I heard some pay their coaches to feature them in matches. 

Development of talent is expedient. This is why is not ok that for every player we use, we must buy them. A club like ours, (and indeed for every club good enough to be in the top flight) should have quality coaches from the academies up to the top flight. But rather we have teams who win home games mostly from penalties. So what happens is, when we get to the big stage where no one would give us penalties, you find us wanting. 

Clubs parade half baked players in the name of readymade players who in the long run aren’t even theirs. (No insult intended but we all are a work in progress, aren’t we?). Then a lot of clubs have players who are only on loan with them. So when/if a move to Europe materializes, the academy that owns them suddenly appears. Clubs can grow their own players- have quality coaches grooming these youngsters from the cradle. We have the potential to produce the world’s best footballers. So why aren’t we producing them? Nobody is thinking about that. 

A lot of us watch the European leagues and we do enjoy it. We have seen and we do admire Pep’s Manchester City and Kloop’s Liverpool. And we can sit down and enjoy from the comfort of our homes a football classic when some of these teams play. Coaching is expedient and that is how Akwa United is top of the League now. Quality coaching. 

But even a coach who knows little can improve himself thanks to the Internet. With the help of the Internet, a coach can learn how to improve his coaching knowledge and drills. There are tonnes of materials, free and paid study materials to help any coach build a better team. Someone once told me that why players of a particular club (named withheld) were dropping like flies due to injuries week in week out. 

“Excessive training”

“If they are training too much, why isn’t it showing in their games”

“LOL. Sorry, it’s excessive running” 

Then he added. “And the result is, we produce good runners not good footballers”

Football is leaving some of us behind. And guess what? We won’t forever keep crying and hoping that these things change with our football. At some point, we would stop whining and complaining about these issues and some of us would figure out a different route to getting these things to happen. Comprenez vous? 
Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Let’s talk a little about the CHAN, shall we? 

Good morning guys, So let’s talk about the CHAN. 

I’m not sure how long this post would be but let’s give it a crack and if we don’t finish today, we can always have a part 2 and 3 etc, depending on how much we cover. Cool? Welcome. 

First of all, I’ll like to congratulate the CHAN Eagles. They fought valiantly. They got us to the highest position we ever got at the CHAN. With little preparation, harp hazard camping conditions, injuries etc. They still made it to the finals. They shook off the disappointment of the first game against Rwanda, they trudged on all the way to the finals. If you’re looking for the definition of the Nigerian spirit, that’s it right there. In flesh and blood. 

So whatever happened? Yes, going into the game, we were not favorites. The North Africans were. They were playing a lot better than we were, they were playing infront of an incensed home support and a referee whose stock began to fall the day someone claimed he was the best in Africa. The target for the Eagles was the quarter finals but they got to the finals. So in a way, they got their target box ticked. But why make it to the finals if you have no plans of winning? So they gave it a shot. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. 

Salisu Yusuf made bold selections for the finals. Okpotu had had an OK tournament till the time, but somehow Salisu felt it was ok to introduce a new weapon in the final. It backfired. Peter Eneji was unfit and after a poor first period and a first half yellow card, perhaps he ought not to have resumed the second. At least you can judge how your players are performing and make the bold call. Isn’t that why you’re the one this country thrust into the dugout? 

A second yellow before the 50th minute and that was it. A comeback was now near impossible and our push for it saw us severely punished by an opponent clearly “turned on”. And so the goals began to rain – from the left, right, center. Dele Ajiboye ended up conceding more goals than Ikechukwu Ezenwa who had played more games. If we had any doubt as to the quality of the match ups, we were now very convinced that this was men against boys. 

Was the margin primarily a result of the numerical advantage? We may never know but a quick reminder that in the first half, they had swarmed all over us with constant ease. It was surprising how that at the end of the first half, they were only one goal up. It should have been more. They deserved more. Our defenders were brought down to earth, our midfielders ran out of steam and our strikers, out of ideas.  And from the technical area came the now very familiar disposition of “Look guys, I don’t know what I’m doing”! We see it in our match venues all over the country.  

I guess a lot of what I’d told above is not alien with you. You can agree with most if not all. But this is only a Part 1 of this article. There’s a second part and it may not be as forgiving and nice as this first post but it addresses the crux of the matter. I think it is important that people who talk realize that it’s about time we took the decisive steps to improve our football. Do we lack talent? No we don’t. What we are lacking is rather “man-made”. We lack the structure (animate), the structures(inanimate) and the know-how to get back as the best in Africa. 

Word count for today is up. Let’s discuss this further in tomorrow’s edition.

Blessings, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

El-Kanemi 0-0 Enyimba: From Maidugiri with Love 

Good morning,

It is a morning of mixed feelings. A morning preceded by a bittersweet evening. One to remember and also to forget. Our lads went to the ends of the world (Maidugiri) and came back with a share of the spoils. Then by evening, our CHAN Eagles were trashed, flogged, exposed and humbled infront of an animated Casablanca crowd. 4-0. Horrible. 

On the blog yesterday, we talked about how we could work wonders in Maiduguri if we set our minds to it. We didn’t actually work wonders but we did just what we could and sure had some luck too. If we didn’t have this blog where players and club officials are challenged the way we do them here, especially our more recent critic on this team, I doubt if this team would possess the kind of spark it has now. 

Back to the game. It does seem that Aigbogun 2.0 is a master of playing on away grounds. A point each from Makurdi, Port Harcourt and Maiduguri in just under a month is a relatively good result. Especially being grounds we have returned empty handed in recent seasons. So we can say, all those long hours spent on the road wasn’t in futility. Don’t you cherish these points? 

The team had a new look to it. Injury had Farouk, Wasiu, Onaolapo, Andrew, Nelson all on the treatment floor table. In came Tofic Omar, Uche John, Ifeanyi Anaemena and Emeka Obioma were all drafted in. There was no updates form the club official handle but on the basis of the result, you cannot fault their input. It was a job well done. 

From the scrap of updates, the key moments had Dauda in its eye and Anaemena in the other. The Center Back had a good block that prevented a certain goal. Next El-Kanemi Warriors were awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute but the taker chose everywhere but the target that mattered. Dauda would ensure his clean sheet with an awesome save in the 78th minute to help us to the precious point.

We held on till the finish line and it’s a one point that feels like three. It also ensures we are 8th in the table and should we get another three points at home in the next game, we could climb up to 4th, depending on the margin. For a team that bottom of the log four MatchDays ago, that is intriguing. We have tasted defeat just once this season and we’re not even at full strength. Hopefully we have turned the corner and thus grow from strength to strength.  

If you expected me to talk about the CHAN final, just know that this is an Enyimba fan blog but the CHAN Eagles finished in 2nd place which is our highest finish in the tournament ever.

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi

El-Kanemi vs Enyimba Preview: Can we? Yes we can. 

Good morning,

It is matchday 7 today in the NPFL. We sit 7th on the table going but our current position can either be improved by getting a result in far away Maiduguri or get worse if we leave the North Eastern town empty handed.

This time last year, one would have written off the game as a sure defeat for the Aba Elephants but in recent times, teams like Akwa United late last season and Kano Pillars this season already have successfully stopped the Bornu Army on home soil but they are yet to beaten in years.

Aigbogun 2.0 will continue to sweat over the fitness of his boys. With fresh cases of injuries from our victory over our little brothers, the light skinned gaffer might have to hand first starts to a couple of some fresher legs. Fatau Dauda is almost the surest name on the team list. We may get to see Ernest Governor perform some good governance in the defence line. Ifeanyi Anaemena might also return to pair Isiaka Oladuntoye with Ben Francis completing the back 4. 

I also think that even if Farouk Mohammed’s injury is minor, he deserves some rest and will likely be replaced by Dare Ojo, with Franco Atchou and Chinedu Udeagha completing the midfield trio. Nonso Okonkwo may return from suspension to be flanked on both sides by Stephen Chukwude and the resurgent Stanley Dimgba.

It is actually a good thing to realize that despite the number and quality of players absent from the squad, we still find suitable replacements of almost same qualities if not even more and that should give us (both fans and players) more belief.

With just one defeat this season, it is not and won’t be bad to maintain the tempo. Maiduguri is a very difficult ground, no doubt, but optimism costs nothing but can even get you something better. If we put up similar displays like we did in Port Harcourt and Makurdi, who knows, El-Kanemi might just have to beg us for a point. The truth is, one point from Maiduguri will definitely feel like 3 or even more.

Believe and go for the kill now that Coach Imama Amapakabo is away and maybe we can run away with something good and no new injuries.

Can we? Yes! We can!

Back tomorrow.

‘EnyimbaEnyi

CHAN: Rabits and Carrots and salads

Good morning everyone, 

Finally, the long month of January with her 31+ days are over and as always, a short, precise and direct February is already installed and running.

In the Nigerian football sphere, players have heaved a sigh of relief as they no longer have to play 3 games in every 8 days. Maybe that was why it told on our team in the manner of injuries, just maybe. They’ll get a longer recovery time and those 48 hours road trip csm be made and matches will still be played as scheduled.

In the light of this, we want to talk about some group we haven’t really looked into due to the busy opening weeks of the NPFL, the CHAN Eagles team.

It’s no news that we have a strong 21.7% representation in the team in Morocco with all but one of our players featuring in at least one game. We have gotten to see out new acquisitions, Ezenwa and Oladapo, put in impressive displays so far too but our emphasis is on the whole team rather than just our new boys.

Rewind to early December 2017, almost everyone was worried that the team were yet to hit camp in preparation of this tournament, after being released post-WAFU Cup 2nd place outing. No one knew who was going to Morocco and who wasn’t. It was just speculations and speculations and finally, with just a few weeks to the tournament proper, the camp was opened and new additions were made.

The NPFL Super 6 invitational and a very informal friendly with Cameroon were all the extra preparation they got and they have managed to get us miracles and we’re in the final, somewhere we never saw them getting to, if we were to judge by their preparations.

Truth is, while we definitely want to beat Morocco to the title, 1000% of Nigerian football fans will be happy with a second place and with such less pressure comes and air of freedom, freedom to soar just like a super eagle. The source of this happiness is not necessarily on the progress made but on the ever improving quality of play of the team. Everyone has improved over the course of the tournament, kudos to Coach Salisu Yusuf and his backroom staff.

The CHAN Eagles have decided to put some inconsequential trivialities that really matter in football today behind their quest for continental glory and we are seeing how far determination and teamwork has lead us. If only our World Cup Eagles can replicate such decision. Definitely, the glass house says the Benjamins are ready but the boys want to win first and celebrate the huge alert together with the trophy.

Yes, our CHAN Eagles have arguably punched above their weight by getting this far but it I’d high time we jettisoned our fire brigade approach to everything. We may never be this lucky. The Nigerian spirit of rising above all odds may not always be enough. Success is a product of conceited efforts and not just sheer luck. We have male and female teams who will be going into tournaments soon and what is good for the geese is also good for the gander.

I guess this has gotten longer than I felt it would be.

Back tomorrow with some Enyimba stuff.

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Enyimba: don’t kid yourself, we will be around for a long long time

Good morning Everyone, 

It’s one of those days. 

I woke up one day and decided to start blogging on ThatEnyimbaFan. To me, it was fun and an opportunity for me to express my love for the club, help nurture interest in this club and to help ensure that fans have something to read every morning when they came on social media. Nobody was paying me for it nor was I making any money off it. Yet. 

I carefully and diligently grew my readership and what you can call fan base. On a daily basis I sought to update fans and others alike on information regarding the club, because at the time, the club was doing less than nothing to help with that. My dedication, consistency and sincerity in my reportage meant more and more people stopped by to read everyday. 

I was not paid at any time to promote the club or any of the players. No club official/executive/exco has at any time offered any money in the name of, “Thank you for the good job you are doing on your blog”. Nor am I expecting it, why? Simple, it throws away the sincerity the blog is founded upon. It ruins the very foundation of this blog. 

To maximize reach, I write this blog in the wee hours of the morning or night. Sometimes I’ll have to transcribe interviews, sometimes it literally means squeezing water out of the rock for information about a club that has little or no information on cyberspace. I carry it out with a sense of duty although I’m not paid by anyone to do it. Why? Cos that’s who I am and that’s my attitude to my work. 

This blog magnifys the wins, celebrates the players, offers some adrenaline shot to the team ahead of games, criticizes poor performances and does its best to ensure there is Enyimba content out there. Especially with the club only more recently waking up to her responsibility. 

What’s in it for me? Nothing, except the sheer numbers I see daily. Can I take up Lobi Stars or Yobe Stars and start blogging about them and make an impact with them as well? I dare you that I can. I totally understand the power of social media and the Internet. ThatEnyimbaFan intends to be around for a long long time. 

I am entitled to my views and they are independent. And so does everyone who blogs here. In today’s world, anyone can write whatever they want to write on their website or blog or whatever. I don’t beg anyone to read my posts and although I do appreciate everyone who comes, I actually think you come because you love the work we do here. If this blog wasn’t sincere and independent, I’m very sure it will be long gone and buried a long time ago. All I’m saying is, don’t come any longer if you think we are trash. That’s it. 

I believe I’ve passed out my message for today. Like I said earlier, 

It’s one of those days. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

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