The Ibenegbu verdict: The reaction 

Today’s post had to be about the Tornadoes incident and the verdict that came yesterday. The info is out there on social media and on the LMC website – so no point copying and pasting. Today however I want to express my thoughts on the verdict among other things. I speak as a fan of Enyimba and a lover of the League as well. 

First of all, I think we dodged a bullet there. We literally escaped the mouth of the lions. Unless of course the rule says a club cannot be held accountable if they are unaware of their player’s suspension, Enyimba can count themselves extremely lucky right there. The saving grace is the fact that the club feigns ignorance – but in more organized climes, Enyimba should be punished because it is your duty to ensure your players don’t play when they shouldn’t. 

I did mention on the blog yesterday that Tornadoes introduced the word “intentional” and according to the verdict, that was what saved us. I guess the visiting club is expected to remind their hosts of the suspensions they have perhaps at the Prematch meeting. Sounds very odd to me but perhaps that’s how it works in the Nigerian League. Bottom line however is that we somehow escaped this. So care must be taken to avoid a repeat. 

That said, I would like to respond a little bit to a Tornadoes supporter. It would be funny really hoping for three goals and three points from a game where you only just turned your buttocks and got flogged. Let’s say you put up a fight and nearly got a draw or you conceded a late winner, it can be understandable. But for a game where you offered next to nothing? What boldness would you even have asking for the spoils? Think about it. 

We know that winning at home at this stage of the season is almost guaranteed (such is the nature of our game), so with or without Ibenegbu, we could have still gotten our win. Hold on, I’m not making excuses for us but I’m just saying, don’t try to reap where you sowed nothing. Moreover it’s not like you’re chasing the title or something. 

It is also funny hearing one of the fans saying he has lost faith in the LMC. Please nicely answer- How many games did you rob your opponents last season courtesy of a non existent penalty? How many referees got suspended after officiating a game in Lokoja because of a poor showing? How many penalties were you awarded last season? 12. You got awarded 12 penalties at home last season. Most of them match winners. Think on these before you go a ranting. Like they say, “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands”. 

That said, Enyimba still goofed big time on Sunday. But I’ve addressed that in yesterday’s post. 

That’s all of today, I’ll return tomorrow 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

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Re: Tornadoes game and the Ibenegbu illegibility 

We haven’t been quiet, we haven’t run out of what to post here because this week has been anything but uneventful from an Enyimba POV (Point of View). The issue is that I was away on a trip inspired by family responsibilities. I traveled with my good ol writing pad but Internet has been precious. 

So we are left with articles on the draft while wondering when redemption comes. If you run a blog or you are a writer, you know how a little change in your working system can totally and completely upset your routine. So I’m right here and now traveling back to base, mission accomplished and ready to get back in my regular routine. 

So we beat Niger Tornadoes 3-0 on Sunday. A win was never in doubt as everyone knows how woeful a side they are away from home. Their endless stream of penalties kept them winning at their Lokoja adopted home last year and earlier in the season there was the scam of a missing referee that almost caused a fuss in this reverse fixture.

But the win isn’t all well digested and tucked away nicely because there is the issue of Ikechukwu Ibenegbu’s ineligibility to play the game. It appears he was indeed ineligible to play the game and Tornadoes does have a reason to wail. The club  heirachy themselves say they are ignorant of his ineligibility and that they did not receive a letter from the authorities. Reason why Ibenegbu got the nod to play and score. 

Tornadoes then introduced the word “intentional” into the mix. Claiming they told Enyimba the midfielder was suspended for the game yet the club called it bluff and let him play. There was also the issue of not lodging in the complaint in time with the match commissioner all of which to me is nothing but crap. 

Whatever happens with this case is left with the League managers but I don’t think this has happened anywhere in the League in recent memory -refresh my mind if you know. It would be quite interesting if a team spanked 3-0 gets it reversed and the winning team gets 3-0 awarded against them. Moreso for a team as woeful on the road as Tornadoes. 

The technical crew and management must take blame for this error as well. It appears there are lots of people with titles at the club who know nothing of their responsibility. In a setup where things are done rightly, people are accountable, and the person whose duty this is within the club held accountable. Sadly, no one gives anyone their job descriptions before their names are penned into the payroll nor are any kind of reports demanded from administrative staff. This is how professional our clubs are. 

The LMC themselves also have some blame in this. Or I could quite rephrase that this incident further highlights an area where the LMC has got tones of work to do. How is it that after a MatchDay, suspensions and cautions are not even public knowledge? Our games are not on TV and Match Delegates who send the live updates most times don’t report cautions. But the match officials do. So why isn’t this public knowledge? We probably don’t think it serious but stats are a very important part of the game and such incidents as this could easily have been avoided. 

So we await the reaction of the LMC. You can rest assured that whatever verdict it is, it would be quite a ripple from both sides of the equation. The CHAN list got released a few days ago, perhaps we can discuss that in detail in the next few days. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Match Preview: Enyimba vs Niger Tornadoes 

I wrote this post at 4:00 GMT but I may not be anywhere near WiFi till 14:00 GMT, about 2 hours before kickoff. So forgive me when you see this post later than expected. It also explains why you didn’t have any post on Saturday. I promise you I had a post – It will resurface on the Internet in the next couple of days. 

Today however we have three points to get in the bag. We have sucked up the fallouts from the Akwa United defeat. It was even funny to hear the Akwa United captain say nobody gave them a chance in the game. Funny really because they were the home side and they have been playing really good lately. Perhaps that mental bloc I talked about earlier in the week.

Niger Tornadoes and Ebenezar Odeyemi are our guests this afternoon. I wonder how many remember him. The fella we signed from Kogi United two years ago but he was deemed at a level lower than Enyimba standards. Let’s say it took him a bit to settle but Enyimba isn’t the most patient side on earth. He was shipped off.  

From Wikki and then El-Kanemi Warriors and now he is with Niger Tornadoes where he has eventually found his rhythm. This post seems all about Odeyemi because of the inevitability of him scoring against us. Maybe. That said, we have to ensure the points stay with us at the end of the day. There’s really no two ways about it. 

This is the reverse weekend where all those above us playing away from home get to lose their games while we win ours and frog jump them back into thirds or whatever. It’s basically the nature of the League and unless a team does the impossible which is win or get points on the road, you can as well conclude that the final standings at the end of the season will be what it is at 6pm Sunday evening.  

That means we have to get our strikers back on song tomorrow. We should have Mustapha and Mfon who should return to the starting XI. Chinonso Okonkwo has made a bright return to the first eleven- hopefully he gets to keep his scoring boots on, continuing from where he stopped. 

Kelly Kester should make a return back to the fold after completing his three match ban. No doubt we missed him but surely more by the making of the gaffer than a genuine lack of cover for him. In goal as well, Dauda should be returning to action. 

Updates should be at the regular places. We should have an announcement to make in the coming days. 

Three points to the good guys.

‘EnyimbaEnyi

#Nnewi4CHAN and CHAN qualifiers 

I didn’t put a post earlier today and that was because I didn’t want to talk about what I’m about to talk now. Sadly though, I’m right at this subject because now I feel pushed to talk about it. Out of a respect for some of my “professional collegues”, I tried to ignore this sudden call for the CHAN Qualifiers to be played at Nnewi. Then a post surfaced on it. So why not we talk about it? 

First and foremost, I admire Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah. He is a very successful businessman and a philanthropist. There are thousands, (more than what social media can effectively advertise) who have been helped immensely by his generosity. I’ll also point out that it will be utter foolishness for me to claim I know all he has done because I don’t. But ask anyone from Nnewi. He is revered. In these days when people stay greedy, amassing wealth for themselves and their loved ones, he has taken to an exception and what a blessing he is. 

His club itself, FC IfeanyiUbah has quickly risen up as one of the biggest in the country. Whatever player can be acquired, he has gone the extra mile to acquire such. Remember, he went beyond these shores to bring Brazil playing and coaching personnel to grace our League. I love Alberico Da Silva. He reminds me of Robin Van Persie. No they don’t play in the same positions, but they both possess a wicked left foot and I’ve seen a number of world class goals. Yea, world class goals. I enjoyed watching him. Is he still there? I don’t know. And there’s also the West Ham connection. 

Aside just being a great blessing to people individually, he has helped the greater society at large. Maybe I don’t have the full list of his past, recent, ongoing and future investments, but the fact that after a decade in oblivion, he has not only been able to get the NPFL back to his people, he is constructing an edifice- type of which I haven’t seen anywhere in this country. Someone quoted $8billion (or million, I’m not sure) somewhere and while I haven’t handled such money before, it could be worth it, maybe. 

You won’t understand the magnitude of it till you get to Nnewi. It is a facility that will (at the least and based on my own calculations) provide enough employment opportunity to no fewer than 500 people. That means 500 humans in Nnewi and its environs will have a steady and monthly income coming into their homes. Not just handouts but funds earned, and an opportunity to serve the locality. This is unprecedented. I salute you Dr Ifeanyi Ubah. May your fountains never run dry. Amen.

Finally onto the CHAN matters. It is premature for that stadium to host the Super Eagles at this time. Why? It is still very much a work in progress. Yes, it hosted the CAFCC game a few months ago and it has superb VIP but my question is, why the hurry? Look at the Uyo Stadium, it is ready to host anything and everything now. Because the locals waited till they can flaunt it in its glory and they did. Step into that facility and you would be a killjoy not to agree. Same can’t be said of the IfeanyiUbah stadium at this time.

The FC IfeanyiUbah stadium will be an undisputed choice for several competitions both local and International in the very near future so why finish the meat stock before the soup is ready? To me, this current trend is uncalled for as it is very untimely. And worse off, the corresponding insults and counter insults on social media is simply sheer stupidity. The mere fact that this facility is being upgraded everyday is hope for the locals – it will be a venue for more than just qualifiers for the home based Super Eagles, it must be one of the venues for hosting the Nations Cup, when we do. 

This is my personal, unbiased view, the final buck of course doesn’t rest with me. 

Back tomorrow with Enyimba stuff. 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Whats happening with our prodigy?

Good morning All, 

It’s a very brief one here today because I don’t feel 100%. Work demands yesterday was quite heavy on me and my body craves some rest. Every sinew said not to even come on the blog today- but it’s dawned on me that I’ve run out of excuses to give myself as to why the day had no blogpost. 

Thoughts this morning is on Ikouwem our young left back who made a bright start to us at the start of the career. He played in a few games in those early days and he hardly out a foot wrong. Of course we know the key left back is Chima Akas and to be honest, he offers more than just defending at left back. He’s a threat via set pieces and it’s not an ability you’ll overlook.  

Akas’ experience and attacking potential means he cannot be overlooked for the nod especially in the away games where a well taken set piece can fetch us a point or three. It’s same as back home. A couple of weeks ago when the strikers weren’t firing well, Akas remained in the lineups as goals were expected from every angle they came from. 

The danger however is that we are most likely stagnating Ukouwem’s development and match experience. This was to be his breakthrough year but he nowadays is just the seventh name on the bench. I don’t think that is okay. Ikouwem was good enough for a couple of games at the start of the season- what has gone so bad that he doesn’t even get a look in. 

I think it’s about time we got him back to some action. Perhaps a couple of home games where he can express himself much better. I’m looking at a player who could become a legend at the club if he gets the chance to. I don’t know if the club’s management enjoys spending money, buying players most of who they don’t get to use. 

Ikouwem has the ability to be one of the best in this country in his position. And while it could take a long time arriving there, we must also be sure that we are not getting in the way of his development. I’ll say, play him in the for starts. 

That’s all I can share today. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

What shall we do with our sister, she has no breasts…

First of all, I’ll like to say this is not a guest post. This post was written by yours truly, the one who’s always here every morning. The title of course was pulled directly from the Holy Bible –

“We have a little sister, And she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister In the day when she is spoken for?” Song of Solomon‬ ‭8:8‬. 

Ok, so how does this relate to Enyimba? Read on.

We lost 1-0 to Akwa United on Sunday. That’s no longer news, but what the majority of Enyimba fans are unaware of is that this scoreline greatly flattered us. It could have been worse- I mean we are looking at a pummeling that could have gotten to 4 or 5 goals. And oh we did have chances of our own – according to the club official handle but it would have been foolhardy to think we would have left Uyo with any kind of point. We were that bad. 

Yes, we were that bad. Very bad. If you see the highlights which I shared on our Twitter handle @EnyimbaEnyi, you would wonder why Akwa United gives us too much respect. They tend to fidget when they want to play us whereas they are clearly a superior ball playing side. Yes I said so- they look a side with an idea of how football should be played and results gotten. 

And before you throw me that “it’s only a regular away game lost” line, look at that video and see how we were all over the place. We were second to every ball and there were gaps everywhere. We were setup wrongly. Like my friend pointed out to me, You cannot counter a team that plays with three midfielders with two midfielders and you want to manmark. It’s impossible – isn’t that simple Math? 

On this blog, we have clamored for a change in tactic when we play away from home. Even Jose Mourihno twitches his side when away from home. He seeks to pack the bus and play on the break. That might have worked in Uyo – if we lasted halftime without conceding then they would get frustrated. 

But what did we do? We opened ourselves and chance after chance the traffic kept moving in our direction. We left gaps everywhere and Dare Ojo was the lone man in midfield with Ibenegbu who I don’t think is the best we can give the responsibility of harrying and hassling Makaiba’s athletes. We had no use for 2 strikers with a wide open midfield. Where was Lordson Ichull? Where was Solomon Okpako? 

The whole pre-game hype was, beat Akwa and we are guaranteed a good shot at the Continental places. We wanted it but we didn’t show that we did. This got me thinking long and deep at the quality of coaching we have in our league- think a little about the carnival at the Yakubu Gowon last Sunday. Player-studded Rivers United are in the CAF Confederations Cup group stages yet there’s no defined system of play- the coaching crew still unaware of her best team.

Our teams do whatever they can (foul means included) to land in the Continent. Then when they get there, they show their level of competency. I want Enyimba to get in the Continent next season but I’ll be silly expecting that we would be winning it or anything like that. Better organized teams from better organized leagues will knock us out of it – there’s no arguing it. You don’t need to think too far to remember – that’s exactly what happened last year.

What shall we do with our sister, she’s got no breasts. What shall we do with our League, it’s been ruined by abysmal  coaching and poor club administration. How many players have actually improved significantly playing under our coaches? Meanwhile, you can count the number of coaches who actually know their stuff and believe me, it’s a very short list. One of them is not even employed right now. 

Let’s say Plateau United, MFM and El-Kanemi Warriors make it to the Continent next season. Help me finish the thought…

What shall we do with our League? And guess what, I’ve not even come to the referees yet. 

That’s all for today. Sorry it’s a very lengthy post –

Back tomorrow and lest I forget, Happy Birthday Safe Hands Theo.  

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

Akwa United vs Enyimba Preview: Akwa United is in Cloud 9 and deservedly so

Many Nigerians claim there has been no positive change, no improvements in their lives. I agree. It is true, for many, things have rarely gotten any better. But, same can’t be said of the Akwa United fan. Akwa United fans are having the time of their lives – it’s simply unprecedented and while others in the country wail, they should be the ones comforting others. 

Why? You’d ask. Oh, I’ll explain. You see, usually, at this time of the year, Akwa United fans usually flood their various churches on Sundays. You’ll see them, on their knees, with arms outstretched and eyes tightly shut in heartfelt supplications to God, praying to survive another now annual relegation battle. Somehow God always heard them.

This year though, there’s a different feel to this time of the year. They must be wondering what is missing in their lives right now. “Something isn’t just quite right”, I can’t imagine them ask themselves in hushed tones. Yea fellas, this season, there’s no relegation nightmares. There’s no danger whatsoever. And there is a guarantee that you will be in the Championship next season. Congratulations! I can’t even imagine your joy. 

Coach Abdu Makaiba was unveiled by Akwa United as Enyimba made a late rush to acquire his services at the end of last season. I learnt he was first choice to replace Aigbogun but Akwa was faster. So we moved to the second on the list. Ogunbote joined us, the Makaiba project began in Uyo. After a series of false starts, the former classroom teacher was able to get his squad playing like he wanted them to. 

The governor and the club chairman weeded off the chaff responsible  for the club’s stagnation. The gaffer was given freedom to install his operating system software and his machine is running nicely. They’ve got a game in hand, they are a place below us on the log and there is growing belief that they have a real shot at the title. Do you bet against Akwa getting an away win again this season? They nearly did in midweek. 

You wanna compare Enyimba and Akwa United? You’re looking at two teams that look headed in two different directions. They have the manager we wanted. They have a football edifice we wish we have a half of. The gaffer has free hand to determine his team and acquire any player he wants, select any eleven he needs for any game. Honestly, we can’t say same for ourselves. 

So while this should be a preview for the Akwa United vs Enyimba game, I’d say our good old history and tag of the being best run club in this country and the most successful will not last forever. What is happening in Uyo is proof it won’t. Teams like Akwa United are indeed headed in the right direction. Admitting it won’t deny me my Sunday rice and stew just before the 4pm kickoff. 

Well done Akwa United, you are a team headed for great things – just hand us the three points today and the whole world will be happy. Thanks and God bless.

Enjoy the game everyone. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

About time we told ourselves what needs to be

Good morning Guys and welcome to the month of July 

Feels like yesterday but the year looks racing to its end. And like I say whenever I write posts at this time of the year, the best time to start out those projects and plans you have always had is right away. Because in about the same time between January 1st and now, 2017 will be gone for good and you will be left with wishing you started earlier. 

I’m gonna try to keep this blog today simple and short as much as I can, reason being that it is silly dwelling on a thought I’ve shared in the past, over and over. Today’s post is directed to players, journalists, OAPs and everyone else who wishes to make significant progress in their chosen careers. It is a principle that will bring you benefit both now and in the future. 

Every employer (club or organization you work for) only has you in their books because of the value you’re adding to them. The moment you get stagnant and stop adding value to them, you become expendable. Perhaps you’re a footballer and your Uncle is the chairman of the club, or maybe you’re an OAP and your godfather owns the station. So you feel you can’t lose your place. My dear friend, please don’t kid yourself. 

Every organism starts dying the minute they start becoming stagnant. Maybe as a footballer, back in the day, you would wake up early to train because you desired to become a professional footballer. Now Enyimba or Kano Pillars have signed you and you have arrived. So you’re resting on your laurels now and that gives you license to lose sight of where you wanna be and in addition, you are now partying every other week. 

I’ve got news for you- a Biblical verse talking about Samson says, ““So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” Judges 19:20. Samson didn’t know he was now running on empty cylinders. He has become an empty barrel. He had lost his vision and that had cost him his calling and ultimately his life. 

Today I want to provoke you to ask yourself if you still have the vision of where you’re headed to in life. Perhaps you are okay being the best defender in Enyimba- you know also that teams in Africa and Europe can pay better. You can get National call ups, you can play in the biggest clubs, you can improve and break free from your current level and reach out to the higher level for your life. 

Make a personal commitment not to settle, because God has more for your life. You’re an OAP in a very dynamic sports industry – can you add more skills to yourself, that presents you as a person of much more value? What do you do with your time? Are you preparing for your future? Funnily enough, without the training, you don’t deserve your dream future. 

Are you satisfied with what you are right now? If there’s a sudden turn of events, will you still be standing? If not, ask yourself – What are the things holding me back? What adjustments do I need to make? What more disciplines and skills do I need to imbibe? What is lacking in my game? What is stopping me? 

It’s really your choice ultimately but this being the start of a new month, and it won’t be a bad idea to evaluate where you are and to the needful. If you want to get into the next divinely scheduled season of your life. 

That’s the blog for today –  guess it wasn’t that short after all. I’m sorry. 

Happy New Month. 

Back tomorrow with the match preview for the Akwa United vs Enyimba game. 

‘EnyimbaEnyi

From here we can push on and achieve our targets this season

He’s rarely been in the spotlight since he signed for us- he has shied away from the limelight and from media attention.  It hasn’t been helped by the fact that he is deployed in a role where unless you are looking for him, you wouldn’t pay attention to him or indeed acknowledge the responsibility he’s burdened with in a game. 

He rarely is at the end of the final ball- the viewers will remember how the striker raced onto the ball and finished it brilliantly or fluffed it. But someone sent a nicely weighted pass that the striker galloped to. Hardly would anyone ask – “Who passed that ball?” TV helps but why aren’t NPFL matches on TV? And why don’t clubs push out their match videos? 

When we signed Ikechukwu Bartholomew Ibenegbu aka Mosquito from Warri Wolves two seasons ago, close followers of the league were in no doubt as to his quality, experience and ability on the ball. The trolley dash nature of those signings and the pressure to at least replicate the previous season’s feat gave no room for the true quality to shine to the fore. 

Yes, there were those games where Mosquito’s wizardry on the ball decided the outcome.  Especially in the earlier stages of the Champions League’s games at that abandoned campsite of the Adokiye Amiesimaka at the backside of Port Harcourt last season. There were some games as well, where he did far too little, sometimes embarrassingly (Sundowns in South Africa).

The move of my friend Nzube Anaezemba to Rivers United meant that we entered the new season with Ibenegbu as our major creative midfielder. And baring a few games where he sat out due to injury, he has established himself as not just a regular, but one whose influence has kept us within touching distance of the title. 

Chinonso Okonkwo deserved took the plaudits for Wednesday’s win over El-Kanemi Warriors but aside producing the pass that set Abalogu through for the penalty, and netting the penalty itself, Mosquito had a hand in two of the other three goals. 

ThatEnyimbaFan spoke with him after the game and he disclosed that It has been a difficult past couple of days for him following the death of Coach Kelechi Emetole who he says is more than a father to him. In his words, “God made me who I am today in football through him. I must dedicate my goal and the victory to my late football father Emetole Kelechi”. 

On the club’s targets for the season, Ibenegbu says; “We still believe that we can win the league and the FA Cup and we are seriously working towards that. This season, the players are more committed and disciplined than last season. We can push and achieve our target for the season”. 

And while we say Amen, take a bow for us efforts so far this season, Mosquito

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi 

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