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!

A Review of the Teams Ahead of the New Season (cont’d)

Though I may not be able to touch on all, I’ve selected yet a few number of NPFL clubs on which I can shine my spotlight as we head into the new season. After reviewing Rangers and Shooting Stars <a href=”https://forthegoals.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/a-review-of-the-npfl-teams-ahead-of-the-new-season/”>here</a&gt;, let’s take a look at two other clubs.

ENYIMBA FOOTBALL CLUB

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Enyimba Football Club

Nickname: The People’s Elephant

Founded: 1976

Home Ground: Enyimba International Stadium , Aba, Abia, Nigeria.

Calabar (Temporary Home ground)

Capacity : 16000

Location : Aba, Nigeria

Head Coach : Gbenga Ogunbote

Chairman : Felix Anyansi-Agwu

2015/2016: 10th

The Man: Mfon Udoh

Despite becoming the highest goal scorer in the 2016 CAF Champions League, he was not really favoured by former coach,  Paul Aigbogun but Mfon Udoh is one man Gbenga Ogunbote will rest his hopes on to deliver plenty of goals that will win maximum points for the people’s Elephant this season.

Enyimba Football Club

Located in one of the biggest commercial  cities in Nigeria, the People’s Elephant ; Enyimba of Aba is one of the biggest club sides in alongside Al Ahly of Egypt and Asec Memosa of Cote d’ivoire . The two-time CAF Champions League winner is one of the most successful side in Nigerian club football history.

However,  the 2015/2016 season under former Warri Wolves gaffer ; Paul Aigbogun was indeed a torrid and abysmal outing for the former League Champions. The inconsistent or lack of permanent home ground contributed to some of the misfortunes and woes of Enyimba last season,  shuffling between the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium in Port Harcourt for CAF Champions League games, The Yakubu Gowon Stadium and the Abia Warriors stadium for NPFL games is sure no way to get your fans massive support.

In addition,  finishing 10th on the log last season and their woeful performance at the Caf Champions league was unacceptable for the management of the club.

The departure of inspirational captain, Chinedu Udoji, Chinedu might have left some void in the strength of the team but the arrival of Stanley Digmba from Sunshine Stars and experienced Ghanian goalie Fatau Dauda, the People’s Elephant (now known as Enyimba of Calabar) can fancy their chances of at least returning to the continent under new boss; Gbenga Ogunbote who helped Shooting Stars survive relegation last season.  Whether Enyimba will reclaim the league from current champions; Rangers of Enugu or correct last season’s misfortunes remains to be seen.

WIKKI TOURISTS

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Wikki Tourists

Nickname : The Bauchi Elephants

Founded : 1992

Homeground : Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, Nigeria.

Chairman : Alhaji Isa Musa Matori

Head Coach : Baba Ganuru

2015/2016 Position : 3rd

The Man : Mubarak Umar Mohammed will look to step into the spotlight after the departure of Godwin Obadje to Club Africain of Tunisia

Prediction : 3rd

After making a return to Nigerian topflight football in 2014, Wikki Tourist a.k.a the Bauchi Elephants had an impressive run in last season’s Nigerian Professional Football League finishing 3rd on the log behind eventual winners Rangers of Enugu and first runner up; Rivers United.

The Bauchi Elephants narrowly missed out on securing one of two Caf Champions League Tickets but found solace in securing a ticket to play in the Caf confederation cup . Wikki Tourist had a total of 57 points with an impressive +17 goal difference ,the highest in the league and their rock solid defense allowed the fewest goals last season allowing only 28 goals.

A total of 45 goals was scored by the Bauchi based outfit, 18 of which were scored by the league’s highest goal scorer; Godwin Obadje who scored against 11 different oppositions alongside Rangers Egbuchulam; the highest in the 2015/2016 campaign.

With the departure of inspirational coach, Abdu Maikaba to Akwa United and top striker, Godwin Obadje to Club Africain  of Tunisia, Wikki Tourist faces a tough challenge of repeating their last season exploits.

New coach ,the experienced former Kano Pillars and Nassarawa United coach; Baba Ganaru will have to restore confidence to the fans as Wikki Tourist begin their league campaign against Kabiru Dogo’s Nassarawa United on the 15th of January at the Sir Tafawa Balewa Stadium and few weeks later they will take on RSLAF of Sierra Leone in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round.

Mission Impossible X: Ride or Die (Enyimba and their CAF Champions League Qualification)

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Paul Aigbogun’s men find themselves in a precarious situation as they hope to seal a last-minute ticket to the 2016 CAF Champions League semi-finals. With zero points, the People’s Elephant are definitely walking on a tight rope.

They now seek to get maximum points against Zamalek of Egypt and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa. Or at least 4 points from both encounters with a good goal difference. But it’s important to note that Enyimba lost their two opening matches, to this same sides.

Enyimba are currently on a -2 goal difference in their group, having conceded 2 goals away to Sundowns and 1 at home to  Zamalek in their first home game at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium in Port Harcourt. This leaves Enyimba in a difficult situation. Now, they can’t afford to concede goals, especially if they want to qualify for the semi finals.

Furthermore, Enyimba’s consistent inconsistency in the Nigerian Professional Football League is also a cause to worry about. They are currently placed 6th on the log with 42 points (with 2 games in hand against Ifeanyi Ubah and rock bottom side Ikorodu United aka Oga Boys). Their last win came against Kano Pillars in the Week 26 fixture.

The inconsistency of the People’s Elephant also has something to do with the lack of a permanent home ground this season. Three stadia have been home to Enyimba this season; the. “potatoes plantation” pitch in Umuahia (home ground to Kennedy Boboye’s Abia warriors), the Yakubu Gowon stadium, formerly known as the Liberation Stadium (home ground to Rivers united) and the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium stadium in Port Harcourt which they use for their CAF Champions League engagement.

This major factor according to some enthusiast has not given room to the team’s geling, bonding and the mastering of tactics. In this part of the world, home ground advantage is key to home teams as they know specific areas where they can wreck havoc to the opposing team or opponents. But Enyimba, in this context, don’t have a fortress.

Lack of adequate home support and the absence fans at games has also, to some extent, led to poor results from the team in recent times. Motivation is also lacking. And according to reports, the players have not been paid for about 3 months.

Professionalism and Patriotism are two major strands in the life of every athelete. But most times, both can’t be nourished at the same level. Most times, one has to suffer in place of the other.

The recent partnership between the LMC (League Management Company) and the La Liga has put some players, especially from Enyimba, in a dilemma. The NPFL All Star team travel to Spain to take part in the La Liga World Challenge 6 players of Eyimba (Osadieye, Afelokai, Ifeanyi Matthew, Chima Akas) among others are in the 18-man squad.

Now, according to sources, the players were more interested in travelling to Spain to sell themselves, rather than playing in the CAF Champions League (I’m wondering how true this is. I hope my Enyimba friend can shed more light on this for me). Are the players giving up? Questions begging for answers.

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Enyimba take on Zamalek of Egypt in a must-win game in Egypt on the 14th of August and the absence of 6 major players, seems to spell D.E.F.E.A.T I.N A.D.V.A.N.C.E. The arrival of these players, barely 24 hours before the match, will not help their cause.

The usual fire brigade approach is obviously the only panacea in the wilderness of delusion in which Enyimba have found themselves in. Enyimba will love to contend with the vehement and vociferous Egyptian fans and some hostile conditions which their opponent will bring to the table. Enyimba must be prepared for all the antics that will be on display that day.

The People’s Elephant must win or at least get a draw; a barren draw preferably. And even though they choose to win, they must win before the game starts (psychologically before getting onto the pitch). Well it remain to be seen how this will turn out. Perhaps, the resignation of Zamalek’s coach (Mohammed Helmi)  might just be a morale booster?

Having said this, it will be more easier and convenient for a Carmel to pass through the needle’s eye than Enyimba getting a positive result in Egypt.

About Author
Ayomide Matthew Oluwapamilerin is a freelance but passionate sport writer, analyst and broadcaster who major in Basketball, Football and Tennis. A 400l of Obafemi Awolowo University. You can follow his updates @Mrmatthew_Esq on Twitter

Enyimba Int. vs Rangers Int.: Rangers Still In Range, Players vs The Referee and more #TalkingPoints

The Oriental derby between Enyimba International FC and Rangers International was one of the most anticipated matches of Matchday 29 (it was actually the other anticipated derby of the Matchday). Here’s why:

– Enyimba were trying to return to winning ways after losing to Plateau United the week before. They didn’t have a leaky defence to worry about like their opponents but they obviously wanted to make sure their NPFL run did not resemble their current CAF Champions League campaign.

– Rangers on the other hand, were looking to go one ahead of Wikki Tourists to top the NPFL table. This alone was motivation enough for them. After going their last 5 games unbeaten, Coach Imma’s side were beginning to look like title contenders. And the only team standing in their way was the one from Bauchi (save, of course, a surprise from Rivers United).

– It was an ORIENTAL DERBY.

So, all seemed set for a massive clash, the delight of football fans.

But what really happened?

1. There Was A Half-Filled (or Half-Empty?) Stadium
For a NPFL fan who’s trying to “fall in love” with the league and watch, at any available chance, the league games, this is some sort of painful point to start with. But it was very hard to miss the empty seats that were glaring at me as I watched Moses Praiz (one of the Matchday analysts) welcome me to the Yakubu Gowon Stadium.

It was too obvious! And I was constantly wondering why the stadium wasn’t filled with fans. “Don’t people want to know how this mouth-watering clash will play out?,” I thought to myself.

Of course the hardcore fans showed up. The mums and dads came along with their kids to see the action. The male and female species were duly represented. But I expected more, given what was at stake. I think I want to blame my disappointment on “over-expectation.”

In the end, I gave up wondering about the number of spectators present (and the ones absent) when the match commentator said,

“We’ve seen today, nearly 3 times the amount of crowd that usually come to watch Rivers United play.”

Translated: This crowd is actually a “huge” crowd when compared to the ones that usually show up when the home team plays. #Shock.

2. Rangers International’s Poor Defence Reared It’s Ugly Head Again
Before this game started, Rangers were second on the NPFL log-table. Not because Wikki Tourists had won more games. But because their goals difference was inferior to Wikki’s, a direct result of conceding more goals than Wikki Tourists.

And their coach, Imma Amapakabo, in a pre-match interview, seemed to not have any issues with his team’s defensive frailties. But this same weakness almost cost them the top spot they currently occupy.

Enyimba piled the pressure early in the first half, trying to utilize this weakness to their own advantage. And most times, it alnost worked with Enyimba players getting half-chances that came about thanks to poor defending by the Rangers players.

Wondering how Enyimba scored their goal? Yes, you’re right! And that poor defending almost made them leave Port Harcourt empty-handed.

3. Some Weird Officiating + Drama
I’m still unsure what really happened at end of the first half but the centre referee and one of the Enyimba players got involved in an exchange of words (note: it wasn’t the nicest of exchanges as there was pointing of fingers and the images of glaring eyes).

Enyimba had scored in the 45th minute of the game. And that lead had only lasted 90 seconds. And a certain Enyimba player wasn’t happy. What he was dissatisfied with is still unclear but I’m sure he’d have exchanged more than words with the ref if he wasn’t restrained by his teammates. Yes, it was that serious!

Of course there was that OMG!-I-thought-we-were-leading-a-few-seconds-ago kind of moment. Two goals were scored, either sides of the pitch… in the space of 90 seconds! I guess whoever said, “You’re most vulnerable after scoring a goal,” must have had this match in mind.

Have I mentioned the awkward officiating by the referee? The ladies who were the linesmen (or lineswomen?) did well. But the centre ref kept making calls that disrupted the flow of the game, calls that were sometimes, not totally necessary. But what do I know? Maybe I’m wrong. Afterall I’m only a NPFL fan.

Worthy Mentions
Obinna Nwobodo of Rangers is a rare gem. His mesmerizing skills was one of the highlight of the game. He took one anyone in sight and usually did a good job in the end. Hopefully the league doesn’t lose this one to Greece or Finland. Hopefully.

I used to think Bobby Clement was badass but after he disappeared in today’s game, I’m definitely having a rethink. In fairness, the Enyimba fans were so brutal. They seemed to be in a no-mercy, kill-em-all mode. But even when these gruesome defenders loosened their grip on Clement, he seemed to have become absent, though present, at this game.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the scoreline of this game. But you know that already right?

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to leave a comment and share this article with your friends.

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn

5 Talking Points From #FootballThisPastWeek

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When asked to describe football, my friend could only let out one word, “Magical,” after a deep sigh.

The sigh in itself was enough answer (I’m sure you’ll agree with me). Football is just unfathomable.

One time, it gives you joy. Another time it breaks your heart. At other times, it just abandons you in-between, leaving to wonder what exactly happened.

And over the past week, there were more-than-enough heart-breaking, pressure-relieving, shocking, amazing, heroic stories that happened in the football world.

One of them was,

– Manchester United’s #ZlatanTime
It was dubbed the world’s worst-kept secret at the time. Speculations were rife! Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract with French giants PSG had expired. The big guy was a free man.

And every single club wanted him to join them. Who wouldn’t want the Swedish king on their team?

The Swede powerhouse was in no hurry to choose sides. He kept his cards close to his chest, using the Euro 2016 for cover-up.

Sweden got eliminated from the competition and the big man was followed everywhere by questions about his next move.

He answered the world via his Facebook page.

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And on Friday, it was Zlatan time in Manchester. Zlatan signed for Manchester United and rejoined ‘The Special One.’

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You can’t wait for the Manchester derby right? Me too!

But Zlatan and The Red Devils weren’t the only ones signing contracts in England. There were more…

– …Premier League Transfers
It’s buying and selling season across Europe. And the English Premier League clubs have been pulling their weights.

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The Philosopher's in town: Pep Guardiola arrives at Manchester City

Over the week, Manchester City unveiled Pep Guardiola to the fans. The Philospher who called City his “new home” joined from Bayern Munich and will be looking to infect the Citizens with his winning power. And also attract some big names.

Manchester City also acquired the services of Nolito who was the leading goalscorer for Celta Vigo last season.

Saido Mane became the 5th Southampton player to join Liverpool in 3 years. Dwight Gayle left Crystal Palace for Newcastle. The Batshuayi hijack was completed by the Blues. Arsenal signed a certain Japanse striker, Asano (surprise surprise).

Henrik Mkhitaryan, who was listed in the 2015/2016 Bundesliga Team of the Year, also signed for Man. Utd as was confirmed by Borussia Dortmund.

While players were moving in and out of clubs, the action continued in the…

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Winning Penalty: Hector's penalty seals win for Germany over Italy

– Euro 2016
“If in doubt, smash it down the middle.” – Commentator, on penalties, during the Germany vs Italy game.

The Quarter finals of the Euro 2016 witnessed a clash of the titans: Germany vs Italy (Poland, Wales and Iceland don’t exactly count as titans if you know what I mean…).

Both coaches played a 3-5-2 formation. A cagey game highlighted by Boateng’s ‘Air Jordan’ advert led to a 1-1 draw at the end of 120 minutes.

A penalty shoot out was needed to seperate both teams. And the penalties on display were amazing…ly funny. There were some really good ones though like De Sciglio’s and Kimmich’s.

But it was generally a contest of poor penalties. Comical penalties. Zaza of Italy literally danced for a couple of seconds before sending his penalty into space.Pelle’s spot-kick was a shot very well off-target.

Then there was Schweinsteiger’s blaze over the bar and Mesut Ozil’s penalty that sent Buffon the wrong way but hit the post. Muller missed too.

In the end, Germany won the game and finally broke the jinx of not beating the Italians in the last 8 meetings in major competitions (4 draws, 4 losses).

In the other games, Portugal, which are yet to win a game in normal time, knocked Poland out of the competition via penalties.

France ended Iceland’s fairytale run by scoring 5 past them. That was the first time in the competition a team scored five goals.

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Welsh Winnings Ways: Wales celebrate after winning against Belgium. Photo credits: Www.worldsoccer.com

Wales came from a goal down to beat Belgium 1-3. Robson-Kanu’s “Cryuff-esque goal” was one of the highlights of the game.

The teams are now down to four. Who will win the Euro 2016?

While the quest for European glory continues, there’s another quest on-going in the Nigerian Premier Football League.

– The NPFL: Who Will Wear The Crown?
The much-talked about contest between red-hot, second-placed Rangers International, and table toppers, Wikki Tourists, ended in a draw. The Lagos derby saw MFM fire 3 past Ikorodu United (who I think can’t avoid a relegation this season).

There was an away win as Plateau United got one over their counterparts, Abia Warriors (this one came as a surprise though). Unsurprisingly though, Enyimba bounced back from their South African travel (travail?) with a 2-0 win.

Worthy Mentions
Credit to the very commited Italian side that was able to finally score one past Germany in the competition. The flying block made by Florenzi in the game emphasized the kind of commitment Conte had drawn from his men.

But football isn’t all about defending. And I hope Conte now knows better as he heads for the Stamford Bridge.

About Author
Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst and football content creator that is in love with the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and also engage with him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn

Iheanacho and Diego Simeone and Enyimba and 7 Talking Points From Football This Week

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Better than them all!

Whoever gets compared to Leo Messi and C. Ronaldo automatically makes the news. You must be a big deal to be compared to the gods of football right?

What if, as a player, you’re described as better than these gods? I guessed right. That’s how Iheanacho made the news this week.

A whole lot of other things happened in the football world this week. Incomplete games, surprising results (toothless Real Madrid?), fireworks in Sweden and more.

I’ve tried to single out a handful of them – some that you know and some that you probably missed – and try to have a conversation with you about them. That’s okay right?

Good.

Let’s talk football then.

First on the list,

1. Tottenham Couldn’t Keep Up. Now, They Can’t Win the League Again.
For a while now, only two teams were in contention for the English Premier League title. But after Monday, two got reduced to one – technically speaking of course. Tottenham drew in the game – at home for that matter – against West Brom. One would have expected Spurs to run the Tony Pulis’ men over but they settled for a draw instead. With Leicester leading with 7 points and 3 games to go, Spurs blew their EPL title chances away on Monday. This might just be the closest they’ll ever get to winning the EPL title… or maybe not?

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Nigerian Football: From Amodu to Redknapp?

2. Harry Redknapp and the Super Eagles?
You know how people’ll tell you they weren’t expecting a thing to happen? Well, I wasn’t expecting this kind of “thing” to happen. It wasn’t even on the list. But like football, anything can happen in Nigerian Football. The former Portsmouth coach has been contacted as regards becoming the coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria. As much as this is supposed to be good news (no more Yusuf and especially Amodu), a question comes to mind:
– But of all people, why Harry? Is he the cheapest available option or what? Or was it because he coached Jordan for two games?
Whatever it is, my fingers are crossed.

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3. Continental Action Is Affecting Enyimba Badly!
When Enyimba won that match against Etoile du Sahel, it was a relief for Nigerians to see a Nigerian club finally qualify for the group stages of the African Champions League. Their fans must have been happy too. Happy that their team was performing in Africa. But back home, the story is totally different. Enyimba, current champions of the Nigerian Professional Football League, are currently 19th on the table after 13 rounds of games in the league. The Elephants have only been able to play 9 out of those 13, winning just 4. With more continental action, they may have to postpone more of their league games. With more games postponed, they may lose more ground in the league and will find it hard to retain their league title. So much for qualifying for Africa!

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4. UEFA & Europa Leagues: So far, so good…
UEFA has not disappointed by putting the very best against each other. Villarreal beat Liverpool by a goal and Sevilla played a 2 – 2 draw in Donestsk. Interesting results for the second legs. At this stage, only the best could have made it thus far. But Real Madrid (without their best) failed to score in England against Man. City. This makes the return leg one to anticipate. Will Real run riot at the Bernabeu? Will Man. City shock the world and qualify for the final? Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, have continued to keep a clean sheet at home in this season’s European competition. They kept Bayern Munich out on Wednesday when they won by a lone goal. With the return leg in Germany and with Pep desperate to win the Champions League for Bayern before leaving, will the Bavarians be able to break down Simeone’s tough defense system and win? Speaking of Simeone…

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5. Diego Simeone and his Iron Men.
After knocking Suarez and co. out of Europe (keeping a clean sheet in that second leg in the process), some stats began to surface about Atletico Madrid. And when they shut out a certain Bayern side, the stats went viral. Check some of them out:

5 – Last five CL home games of @atletienglish:
4-0 vs FC Astana
2-0 vs Galatasaray
0-0 vs PSV
2-0 vs Barcelona
1-0 vs FC Bayern.
Fortress.  – via Twitter

Atletico Madrid’s defensive record under Diego Simeone: 256 games 135
clean sheets Absolutely bonkers!  – via Twitter

Obviously, it’s safe to say some very dogged defending has brought A. Madrid thus far. They seem to be redefining football. Simeone seems to be onto something totally different from what Pep Guardiola discovered. It’s like Diego created the kryptonite for “Total Football’s” Superman. And it is a system working perfectly well. Just maybe attack is no longer the best form of defense. Just maybe.

6. Iheanacho Has the Best Strike Rate in Europe.
I totally disbelieved this at first (sure you did too). But surprisingly, I found stats good enough to prove this point. With 5 goals from just 7 shots on target, Kelechi is the most prolific striker in Europe. He averages a goal every 81.3 minutes he has played. Of all players that have scored 10 or more goals in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season, this is the best rate you will ever find. For a player that starts most games on the bench, this is remarkable. Well done son!

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7. Why Can’t Man. City Shift Their Game?
The English FA during the week declined Man. City their request to shift their game against Southampton scheduled for Sunday. This was because the game was already listed to be shown live on TV. Man. City coach complained about how this would affect his team’s preparations for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League clash with Real Madrid. He said, “I don’t understand why we cannot play one day before. Why can’t we at least be in the same situation as Real Madrid? We are representing Manchester City but we are also representing England in the Champions League. You don’t want to give advantage to the other team.” In other leagues, they’d even allow the team play on a Friday! But I guess things work differently in England. Little wonder they haven’t been able to do well in Europe in recent times.

Before I forget, feels good to know that Enyeama is showing them in France what Nigerians are capable of.

The legend has scored yet another accolade as the best goalkeeper in France. He also ranked amongst the best 10 goalkeepers in the world! Great stuff.

Please feel free to share your own talking points with me in the comments section. Would be happy to hear from you.

Cheers to a great weekend ahead!

Follow me on twitter @rotdav and let’s talk even more football.