NPFL MatchDay 33: 4 Exciting Things You Missed

 

It’s understandable if you’re allergic to late game reviews. You probably want it straight from the oven, right? As e dey hot! Same here. When it comes to football, articles about games can very quickly go stale and become obsolete.

But sometimes, it’s almost impossible to notice one thing or the other about a game or a set of games unless you see it again – or you have access to quite a number of TV angles being a commentator or a regular on one of those football shows.

With my kind of access being the latter, it normally took me quite a while to come up with this piece. Add to that the fact that I almost wasn’t aware that the game between MFM and Enyimba FC would be shown live on TV, and you can understand the angle I’m writing this review from.

Nevertheless, as the saying goes, better late than never, right?

MatchDay 33 in the Nigerian Professional Football League served up some pretty amazing action. I finally had a chance to see a live game for the first time in the second round of the season. Guess the “TV rights issue” has been sorted out.

To the meat of the matter, I present to you five exciting things from GameDay 33 you missed

  1. The Enyimba Pose

It was one hell of an encounter in at the Agege Stadium as MFM and Enyimba locked horns in what was, for me, an unforgettable duel. I’ll touch on all the action in the game in a bit but let me quickly tell you about some things that happened before the game started.

There was the “cute and funny” Enyimba pose for the cameras. I guess they were looking to try something new; a break from the norm maybe (hello Hip TV). Instead of the normal football team pose, they sort of formed a curved line, with the goalkeeper in the middle, while they crossed their arms across their chests, puffing up their chests in a macho-like form.

Then there was the MFM Anthem – Yahweh, Your name is Yahweh, You are the Miracle-working God, Your name is Yahweh. It was hard to find someone in the stadium who wasn’t singing along with the footballers, word for word.

  1. Yet Another Away Win

In all the 10 games that were played on the day, there was only one away win. For a league that’s still trying to get used to seeing away teams cart away three points from right under the noses of the home team, a 2-4 score margin for an away side can be rattling.

But that’s the scoreline by which Abia Warriors thrashed Lobi Stars. It’s still somehow unbelievable that a NPFL side scored 4 away from home. But the Warriors pulled it off, ending Lobi’s 80-match unbeaten home run – a record that had been standing since 2013. Can’t complain though as it’s a good thing for our league. Yes, they may come every once in a while but this week’s away win was one to remember.

  1. The Titanic Encounter in Lagos

It was the case of a sleek MFM side against the “Tall Ones of the NPFL”.

The Lagos-based side played like a side under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. Quick exchange of passes, a dribble here and another there plus a couple of tricks were on display. The Tall Aba boys preferred to be as physical as possible, while trying to keep Olukoya’s Boys at bay.

There were no goals, yes, but it was one game most fans won’t forget in a hurry. Can I quickly add that Lagos is lucky to be a host state to an amazing team like MFM FC. That Enyimba away jersey still looks lovely!

  1. The Wikki Tourists vs. Rangers Incident

Here’s an excerpt from a friend’s blog – the only Enyimba blog you’ll find on the internet:

So Rangers took the lead in Bauchi and I believe Wikki equalized. I think it was after the interval or thereabout that certain miscreants decided to show their dull-witted, pea-brained, doltish, daft, muttonheadedness. They grabbed stones and began hurling it at the match officials. One of the stones flew like David’s sling headed for Goliath’s forehead, only that this time, it hit the skull of the helpless Centre referee, cracking it in the process. Blood poured.

Incapacitated, the referee refused to continue the game and for more than 45 minutes, the game was halted. Much later, it resumed and eventually it did end at 1-1 albeit under very tense conditions. Much later, pictures surfaced all over social media of the latest version of the referee’s head. Opened in two spots and looking like he was all pains. To many, it was just a picture, to me, it was a statement that football has lost its way in our League.

Okay, maybe this point is not so exciting. Maybe our darling league still has a lot that needs to be done. But, I choose to remain optimistic.

Just in case you’re wondering though,

Now that MatchDay 33 is gone, the league is moving on to the next Game day. And there’s one game that stands out. See if you can find it.

MatchDay 34 NPFL Fixtures

Yes, I can’t wait for that 1st vs. 2nd clash this weekend. With just three points separating the two sides on the table, this game may just be the one that decides the winner of this year’s NPFL title. And I can’t wait for the outcome of this encounter.

Till then, cheers to the freaking weekend!

Abia Warriors vs Enugu Rangers: Meet Chikatara, a Beautiful Pain in the Ass… and other talking points

CHIKATARA-RUNNING

It was Match Day 6 in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL). This stage was in Umuahia, Abia State: a quite wet football field that looked like a rodeo. Well, can’t blame anyone. It had rained not too long ago (I think) and the water-logged pitch was now divided into tiny little patches of green which provided even more entertainment as the players miscalculated passes, could not stop slipping and falling and got past each other very easily. Hilarious right? I know!

Enugu Rangers, a side amongst the top 4, was guest of an unbeaten Abia Warriors side. Rangers wanted to “keep keeping up” with the clubs the top. The Warriors wanted to remain unbeaten – after this match at least. And guess what? It was an Oriental Derby! (that’s what Mike and the other commentator called it.) Should be super fun right?

4 goals were scored in this high-tempo, no-dull-moment game – most of them beautiful goals. Although Abia Warriors were a bit too wasteful and should have won the game by a stretch, the match ended in a draw. Spoils shared. But, as can be compared with a movie, a game usually has it’s Actors (the Good Guys) and the Boss (the Bad Guys). But what if a player was both the good guy and the bad guy at the same time? What if he was the Flop of the Match and Man of the Match at the same time? Impossible? Let me explain…

But before I do, let me quickly mention that:

– There Were Vocal Fans…
Which is a sign of the increasing love that Nigerians are showing towards their own. Was nothing close to the kind of noise that the WestfalonStadion (not sure about the spelling) usually experiences every weekend but, for Nigerian football, this was good. There were drums – and trumpets too just in case you were wondering. The home fans voiced out whenever the referee made a decision against their team or whenever their team lost a beautiful scoring opportunity.

There were fans rocking their club jersies and those who couldn’t get into the stadium watched either from the comfort of their homes close to the stadiums or from the top of on-going constructions around the stadium. There were beautiful ladies that came to watch the game too! Talk about being a fan! You should pick a club too you know and pledge your allegiances. Join the train!

Moving on…

– … and Beautiful Goals on Display
Not that beautiful goals have been scarce in the NPFL – see last season’s highlights for proof – but when players are good enough – and calm enough and smart enough too! – to score beautiful goals in derbies where tension is high and bragging rights are at stake, then those goals – and their scorers – are worthy of mention. The pick of the bunch was Chisom’s freekick. It was a combination of smartness, taking advantage of the opponent’s error and exquisite finishing. Even the poor-looking pitch had nothing on this one!

Lol… it was that good.

Just outside the 18-yard box of their opponents, Enugu Rangers were awarded a freekick. As usual the Warriors’ goalie arranged his wall and… chose to position himself behind it! Chisom noticed this, swiftly curled the ball past the wall, made sure it was far enough from the goalkeeper’s left hand and precise enough to kiss the post and slide in. Talk about a beautiful goal. The NPFL players serve that kind of dish too!

There was Bobby Clement’s goal too! You’d have thought Messi was on the pitch. The build up to the goal was all African. The goal itself looked like something out of Europe. Clement, inside the opponent’s box, faked a kick, switched the ball to his left foot – “deleting” an Abia Warrior player in the process – and curled the ball into the far left corner of the goal. Another beautiful goal for a great game!

CHIKATARA-RUNNING
– Chikatara: A Beautiful Pain in the Ass…
Or neck – or any part of the body you prefer. Wondering why? Well let me put it this way:

When an attacking player has team mates that constantly supply him passes and crosses and continually open up defenses for him, that player should end up scoring a lot right? Not Chikatara. I mentioned earlier that Abia Warriors were wasteful in front of goal right? Well, to be more specific: Chikatara was more than wasteful in front of goal. And SELFISH TOO!

The kid kept throwing away the chances that came his way! It was like he was trying so hard to be the Flop of the Match. To cap it all, he kept trying to dribble past every player… and kept falling short with almost every attempt.

But…

What happens when this same guy, after he has missed all the chances that came his way, kept trying and later scored a crucial goal that saved Abia Warriors’ unbeaten run?

I’ll let you decide. (I choose #BitterSweet)

To divert a bit…

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MFM FC is turning heads with the way they play their football. They’ve been touted to play like Arsenal, score like Barcelona and defend like Atletico Madrid. For a side that’s a rookie in the NPFL, they’ve done well so far. Their fluid play makes them a beauty to behold. They won again this past weekend, beating El Kanemi Warriors 3 – 1 in Agege. They have now only lost a game since the league started and are RIGHTFULLY top of the league table. Well done boys!

Plateau United and their terrible defending is flirting with relegation. They were beaten 2 – 0 by Awka United and the two goals they conceded showed a lack of concentration and inability to man-mark.

At least, Enyimba did Nigeria proud in their continental game with a comfortable win. Giwa FC also got their first win of the season. A 1 – 0 win over Sunshine Stars was enough.

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a full time footballing polygamist that loves watching football and is in love with writing about the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and engage him on Facebook (Rotdavdara) on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn