Good morning everyone.
We are in Lagos to play newcomers MFM of Lagos. While of course we have tomorrow morning to look at that one and diset it accordingly, I’m more concerned this morning about our defence.
For several seasons now, Enyimba has been top of the pile with regards to the least conceding teams. In fact one season, couple of years ago, three years I think, Enyimba went an entire season without conceding one goal at home. It’s the sort of things you associate with Enyimba, such meanness at the back. Last year of course, we lost just six games in 38. Phenomenal stuff.
It however hasn’t been quite that way since this season. In fact, someone showed me something a couple of days ago, at no time in the recent history have we seen Enyimba ship in more goals than they have scored as it is the case this season. In fact, except that game in Uyo, where we kept a clean sheet, we have conceded in every other away game.
That’s for the away games but it’s rarely been different at ‘home’. Aside Ikorodu and Plateau and Shooting Stars who with due respect to them have been pretty much rubbish especially away from home, we have conceded in every other ‘home’ game. More recently, against Heartland and Lobi and Niger Tornadoes. In fact against Lobi, it could have been lot worse than the score showed.
I have watched Chinedu Udoji for several seasons now and I think he’s the most committed defender in the Enyimba set up. I remember a goal saving block he made in the early minutes against Etoile in Port Harcourt. He literally threw himself at the ball and blocked a certain goal. I also saw him in Uyo make some intense tackles that inhibited an equalizer from Ubong Ekpai, a man who last year said he ‘enjoys’ playing against our skipper.
But defending isn’t just an individual responsibility. It’s team work and everyone must be fully committed and disciplined for the betterment of the team. This year however we have tried out Chinedu Udoji, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Ifeanyi Anaemena, Ikeh, Ifeanyi George, Uche John, Idris Aloma, Chima Akas, Ugwu Uwadiegwu and even Dare Ojo in different permutations all across that backline but we just haven’t gotten the right quartet.
It’s slightly different with the personnel behind them. Obviously safe hands Theo is the best goalkeeper we have at this point as he has looked assured much more than Femi Thomas and Joshua Enaholo. And there’s one more, Moses Ocheje who has seen little action this season. But a goalkeeper can do little with an unorganized setup in front of him. Someone said, every goal scored can be traced to a number of mistakes prior to the final product.
That consistency and assured partnership hasn’t quite been seen this season and this is one problem that could cost us the title. If like they say, a good defence gives you titles, we can also say a bad defence can cost you titles. Interestingly though, we are not giving away penalties. Enyimba has yet to concede a penalty this season (if my memory is accurate on this one) meaning that it’s the issue of these decent defenders playing well as a unit that has come to the fore here.
In truth, there has been quite a number of new faces who look pretty much decent individually but it’s that cohesion, that ability to work together as a team as well as the determination to lead by example with committed performances that count. We can point at the problems the team has had and all but truth is, going back to basics is the first and more important place to start.
What’s our best center back pairing? Who are the foremost fullbacks, at the left and the right? All those positions are pretty much open for grabs as far as this team is concerned.
Like it is said, as long as your defence doesn’t let in a goal, you’re more likely to get something out of the game. Time to take a look at the defence yet again.