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!

What a Weekend! Profligacy, ConSIXtency and a League on Fire

Courtesy Bleacher

From the NPFL, to the Premier League, the weekend served up too much to describe in one line or sentence. So, maybe I’d be justified if this post were without a title.

But that would mean that you the reader will be going in blind if you eventually choose to read a title-less (or vaguely-titled) post. So, I dug deep within and came up with that title.

The international break is upon us. The highly dreaded break that rids a football fan of all the excitement that club football offers. But the different clubs in Europe put on fabulous displays to leave us wondering what April will look like when club football returns.
So, while you’re preparing to miss action from club football, how about a review of what went down over the past weekend?

1. The NPFL is on Fire!

Things are heating up in Nigeria’s Premier football league. While the reigning champs are desperate to repeat the surprise by a certain Leicester, some other clubs have taken the bull by its horns, and they’re trying to create space between themselves and whatever club that may want to join the chasing pack.

Chasing pack or not? MFM climbed up to second after their win over Plateau United.

One such club turning heads in the country with their amazing performances week in week out is MFM FC. I tell you first hand: The league has not seen so much talent inside one football club… in a very long time!

I may sound like I’ve just sugar-coated how exciting the Olukoya boys have been. But, dis one no be seresere o, this ones fear no foe!

A breakdown

And this was evident in their beautiful performance against league leaders, Plateau United. Before the game, it was the table-topping Jos-based side up against the third-placed Lasgidi side. By the time the ref – who is a clergyman – called time on the game, MFM FC had beaten their opponents… and moved up to second on the log.

Names like Onuwa, Sikiru Olatunbosun, Odey were repeatedly on the commentators’ lips. And, why not?

The man of the moment, Stephen Odey.

Onuwa mesmerized, Sikiru dragged his opposing player – sometimes players – mercilessly and continuously. Odey? The league’s top goalscorer took his tally to 10 goals in 10 games.
Now you understand why the NPFL is on fire. Olukoya’s boys are too busy setting new standards for the league. If you can take a quick peek at the table above, you’ll see them topping the away table. There aren’t far from the summit of the Home table too!

If they continue like this, maybe they’ll be travelling to see the Pyramids of Egypt next year no thanks to finishing top or second on the table this season.

2. Super Sunday

Or should I say Super Weekend? Lukaku, Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho and others all made it another Premier League weekend to not to forget in a long while.

You would have thought that Man. Utd would find life difficult without their star man, Zlatan Ibrahomovic. But players like Rashford and Mata and co stepped up to the plate and helped Manchester United out of their conSIXtent spot.

United also got some help from West Brom and Everton who both connived to cause a mild earthquake at the top of the table which sent Arsenal tumbling down the table.

Chelsea seem to have won the Premier League title. That’s the word on the street. Another win at Stoke put them in full control of their destiny. Spurs kept up the chase with a win over the Saints – who painfully lost Gabbiadini (somebody check that spelling) to groin injury.

What of City and Liverpool? While analysing the game on the Premier League show on The Beat 97.9 FM, I anticipated the clash and spoke of City’s danger trio: Sterling, Aguero and Sane.

While all three were guilty of profligacy, – Lallana, Milner and Firmino too – the game did not fail to live up to expectations. End-to-end stuff, shots on target and expectably, controversies.

3. The Leaders and the Chasing Pack

From Juventus to Bayern Munich to Celtic, some things just don’t change. I heard Celtic are on a 36-game unbeaten run and may be crowned champs in the first week of April. SMH?

The La Liga is still wide open – between just two teams – but things seem as good as done and dusted with in Italy’s Serie A and the German Bundesliga. I’m not sure if this is good for football or maybe it isn’t. You decide.

Time to stop here and see if I can scribble something about the connection between the recent schedule reshuffling in the Premier League and the ‘Early Pull Out‘ of some players.

I’ve never been a fan of international friendlies and the likes. But then again, it is what it is and we have to live with it. So, enjoy watching your favourite players strut their stuff in their national colours. Or better still, go for the Formula 1 which kicks off this weekend in Australia.

About Author

Rotimi Daramola is a freelance football writer, football analyst on The Beat FM 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

Enyimba 1 – MFM FC 1: Fifty Shades of Green, the Whistle Blower and other talking points

On Saturday, the NPFL featured a mouth-watering clash between Enyimba FC and MFM FC. This was a contest between two teams whose recent forms were almost the same, but were miles apart on the league table.

MFM FC, whose season had started on a bright note (any club in the NPFL with an away win this early in the season has started on a bright note), were looking to at least not lose in this one.

Enyimba, looking (and playing) like the evil twin of the club that conquered Africa, were on a mission: to at least garner all three points to help move ‘table-climbing‘ ministry to its permanent site.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw, with MFM FC drawing first blood thanks to a beautiful volley from Stephen Odey (the league’s current top goalscorer) and a late equalizer from the Elephants of Aba. It was literally MFM FC’s 1st half vs Enyimba’s 2nd half.

As with all NPFL games, this one wasn’t void of its own fair share of drama (as per say dis na awa game and we dey play am awa own way!). Let’s quickly discuss all the talking points from the game in Enyimba’s ‘home away from home’ in Calabar.

Work out on a strange pitch: MFM FC players warming up before the game. Photo credit: @mfmfc_lagos

1. The Pitch and 50 Shades of Green…

… or brown, as the case may be. In a way, it’s strange that the first talking point of an exciting game is the state of the pitch. But, that’s how ‘un-missable’ the playing turf inside the Calabar stadium was.

I watched this one on T.V and, the first thing that greeted my eyes was this ‘absurd-looking’ pitch (alongside the over-half-empty stadium which I’ll be discussing later), having like a thousand shades of different colours ranging from green to brown.

I’m of the school of thought that men (well, most of us) are colour blind. So, maybe a woman would have been able to specifically identify the different colours the grass on the pitch was having. For those who saw this game, you know what I’m saying.

For those who didn’t, let me try painting the scene out for you (pun intended of course!). This soccer field (like my Yankee people go call am) had colours ranging from deep green, light green, acid green, brown, Ibadan-roofs-brown (if you’ve been to Ibadan, Nigeria, especially the Beere, Odinjo part of the city, you’ll understand this part better), light brown and more I couldn’t recognise.

The first question that came to mind when I saw the state of the pitch was,

Whoever approved the Calabar pitch?

The other that followed tethered around the reason why Enyimba would chose to not take care of their home away from home.

Yes, not all questions have answers. But, from how the sandy pitch seemed to make the ball bounce awkwardly everytime, to how it made life hard for the respective players, maybe the right people should be looking to answer these questions already.

So, for the sake of Enyimba playing well and having a good season maybe (just maybe) a stadium tweak should help improve the outlook of the pitch (just a suggestion from a football fan) and their poor-so-far season.

2. Empty Fan-Less Stadium

No, it wasn’t a completely empty stadium. The fans just refused to show up! Yeah, there were a few heads here and there with some young whistle blowers in the stands (more on this coming right up), it wasn’t up to standard.

You’re probably wondering what this so-called standard is. Actually, it doesn’t even exist… yet, when it comes to fans thronging to stadia across the nation to watch various clubs strut their stuff.

But, Kano Pillars, Ifeanyi Ubah, MFM FC (being the only Lagos-based football club in the NPFL) amongst others, are gradually raising the bar. They’re setting a standard, the standard. And Enyimba is far behind keeping up with these names.

The reason can be tied to their temporary relocation to Calabar, a state most of their fans may not reside in. Another reason may be that the fans fear to behold football being played on such a terrible-looking pitch. Another reason can be, simply put: The fans aren’t even interested.

If it’s the latter, it’s safe to throw optimism out the window and keep advertising the NPFL like as if we have never done it before. Let’s leave this as food for thought to whoever it concerns.

3. The Whistle Blowers

I have come to realise that football fans can express themselves however they want when they’re in the stadium.

Of course, fighting/hooliganism is not condoned (but those Russians just won’t listen), dancing,  singing, clapping, looking lost and forlon, a quick chat, and a selfie are just some of the many things fans involve themselves with while in ‘The Zone.’

Another is blowing whistles, either in disagreement with the decision of the referee, to send the ref a reminder about how much is left or to boo the players. So, I thought blowing a whistle in a football stadium was legal… until I was proven wrong on Saturday.

Enyimba, on a fast counter against the Olukoya boys, had three of theirs against two MFM FC players I think (can’t exactly remember now). A pass was threaded to one of the Aba Boys who was through on goal.

Then, there was a whistle, blown not once, but twice. The players halted their move, thinking they were offside. But they weren’t. The ref had not blown his own whistle. Amongst those watching the game, two little children were messing around with something that looked like their latest toys: whistles.

This sent some of the older fans into a frenzy as the sudden stop of play made the ref to ACTUALLY stop play and give a decision against Enyimba. Long story short, the little ones were stripped of their whistles, while being surrounded by disgruntled men who expressed frustration,  not only because of the kids, but also because of the thought of what could have been: a goal for Enyimba.

4. Let’s Talk About the Weird Ref

Was too lazy to even look up his name but I remember the match commentator mentioned that he was from Kano.

This centre ref, one way or the other, just managed to dish out all of his bookings on the day to MFM FC players.

Seeing as they’re humans, not machines, it’s impossible for refs to get all calls right. Somewhere in the mix, there is something called improvement and another called not trying to stare down players when they come running to you to share complaints or argue with you.

These refs, especially the centre ref for the Enyimba vs MFM FC game, should take note and make conscious effort towards becoming better.

Odey’s ode: One of the weapons in MFM FC’s arsenal. Photo credit: MFMFC Lagos

5. Fiery Confidence 

If you haven’t noticed, let me quickly show you: there’s this amazing confidence with which the players of MFM FC play. Like their God, they’re no respecter of persons. And they ooze that with their display.

Against Enyimba, while some other clubs would have chosen to let the state of the pitch hamper their play, the MFM boys chose to play football their own way: quick exchange of passes, fluid movements, going for the ball and scoring beautiful goals when the chance presents itself.

They’ve (MFM FC) started well again this season. And the reason is not far-fetched: These ones fear no foe. And that can help them on their way to yet another season in the NPFL (or maybe, who knows, a continental spot).
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what you think about the NPFL. Have you seen any games this season. If yes, what are your thoughts? Which club are you rooting for this season? If you haven’t seen any game this season, ever considered trying to?

 
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

 

This Week’s NPFL Round-up… In Tweets!

It’s hard to follow all the games being played in a league on a weekend or matchday. Ha! You’ll need some super powers to keep an eye (or both and some fingers too for some phone tapping or typing) on updates from all games on a Matchday.

And this weekend, in the Nigerian Professional Football League, it was extra important to keep tabs on all the goings-on in the league

There were different struggles for different positions on the league table. Rangers International wanted to snatch that top spot from Wikki Tourists. 3SC desperately needed to start picking points and Kano Pillars were trying to avoid another “Elephantic Defeat.”

While MFM wanted to win without their fans…

… there was a teeming crowd to enjoy the IfeanyiUbah game.

So you can understand where I’m coming from when I say I had to follow “all available” updates. Wouldn’t be so much fun missing out on all the fun right? So I watched when I could and followed trends when watching was impossible.

And the thing is this: Following a match via trends on social media most times, helps you to see the action from more angles than one. Especially if the social media of your choice is Twitter.

You’d be amazed by how much a series of 140-characters-long posts could be informative, engaging and of course, hilarious (if you’re a twitter user, this should be a norm for you).

So how about a round-up?

It all started on Saturday with the most prolific NPFL game I’ve ever watched in my life: Akwa United vs Rangers International. It was a terrific game with terrific goals scored…

… and some amazing records set too.

Then on Sunday, some “Fan Fun” as Enyimba got the better of Kano Pillars…

… for the second time this season…

… and some stuff of international quality from Heartland FC.

Rivers added more misery for 3SC…

… and there was poor officiating in Niger.

It seemed one of the most exciting games of the weekend was played behind closed doors at the Agege Stadium.

At first, 3 penalties were awarded.

Then, as if not satisfied with the number, the ref awarded one more.

I’m wondering: Maybe heet waz a spiritual somtin? *in Falz’s voice*

With the tweets above, the fans have again, showed how interesting the NPFL is, how much fun there is and HOW MUCH YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON if you haven’t started watching NPFL games.

Already looking forward to the next Matchday!

P.S: Thanks for reading. But don’t forget to share with your friends. We need to spread the NPFL Fever. The people need to know how much fun they’re missing out on. Plus, when they realise the fun you’re trying to share with them, they’ll thank you for being a good friend.

Cheers to a great week ahead!

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

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

Ikorodu vs MFM FC: What I Learnt

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This was the Lagos Derby. Lagos state had not had one in years. These two teams that had just been promoted to the Nigerian Professional Football League set Lagos football fans on the edge again – at least the ones interested in the NPFL. Ikorodu United vs MFM FC. It was a physical game.

It started with the players, from both sides,  clobbering into each other, trying to outpace each other and the goalies not exactly having so much to do. Of course that’s why the game ended in a draw – an interesting one if you ask me.

So, since there were no goals, how about some talking points from the derby?

Ikorodu United need to work on their set-piece plays FAST!
And I mean every word up there. You should have seen their free-kicks (if you luckily missed them). They were terrible! Most of the kicks were nothing to write home about. It was as if they rarely practised anything like it in their training sessions. Maybe they were not expecting to play any in this game (how outrageous). Lucky (the guy that took the free-kicks for Ikorodu) kept making the kicks seem harmless everytime he tried. It was that bad – except for the one time he forced the goalie into.making a save. Well, for a team that just gained promotion to the top flight of Nigerian football, maybe they can’t be blamed. Maybe they’re still stuck in the lower division they came from and can’t wait to go back.

Just maybe.

MFM FC Can be the Barcelona of the Nigerian Professional Football League
This was the first time I’d see them play fully (saw bits of their match against 3SC in Ibadan) and their ball-passing skills were obvious! They tried to move the ball around fast, especially when they were in their opponent’s half and they sometimes succeeded in leaving their opponents (the not-so-stubborn ones) in the dark.

But sometimes they played the ball around too fast; too fast to even keep up with it!

But in all, they passed better than their counterparts. Exchanges between Onuwa and Ifeanyi reminded me of something that I would have usually seen somewhere called the Nou Camp in Barcelona, Spain. It’s a huge comparison I know but then again, why not if not eh? The Catalan giants started from somewhere too!

Nigerian Referees DON’T KNOW JACK About Refereeing
Let me ask you: Imagine you saw a poorly dressed, dirty-looking employee of a certain bank (just imagine) who, to make matters worse, did not have the best attitude in town and behaved very rudely towards you, – outside the bank of course – you’d almost judge the entire bank and even its banking system by this employee right?

Now you can understand the reason why I’m choosing to say Nigerian referees WILL CONTINUE to lag behind their counterparts in the world, especially if they keep officiating like the man who was the centre referee for the Lagos Derby. When you have a referee that gives two yellow cards, to the same player, in the space of 5 seconds – and this was in the minutes after regulation time and added time combined – then you can already predict where the NPFL currently stands as regards match officials and the pit they’re dangerously headed for.

Worthy Mentions
Was good to see bulky defender Nedum of Ikorodu United move swiftly and keep up with the pace of MFM’s Olatubosun and co. Although this man looked like something that would usually be competing for the NFL Super Bowl, he blended in perfectly on this football pitch and was a pain in the neck of MFM FC. So much for being the captain of the team and leading by example.

Talking of captains, the MFM FC captain deserves loads of credit too. Okpara Austin put up an excellent 2nd half performance and put at bay everything that the boys from Ikorodu threw at his team while being the marshall of a 10-man team. Round of applause

Oh! Before I forget, there was a lady amongst the match officials. Her name is Felicia. She was one of the games’s linesmen – we can call her lineswoman right? Boy did she have some eagle eyes. She just dey catch offside anyhow! – correctly though. She even had “balls” enough to ask a player to back off and quit arguing her decision.

How sweet!

Well done Felicia! Looking forward to seeing you officiate more games!

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) and on Twitter @rotdav