Good morning all.
Cool, rainy morning over here. As a matter of fact, it has been raining without fail every single day for about a week. Now, I love the rain as much as the next guy, and so have no complaints whatsoever. It is the season, after all. In no time at all, we will feel the parched whip of the harmattan come cracking down, so I say enjoy what you have right now, and take nothing for granted. This goes for pretty much everything in life.
Today, we’re in a Abeokuta to take on Ikorodu United. ‘Oga Boys’, as they are known (there’s a story behind that, if i could be bothered to rummage through this brain for it) are propping up the table in the absence of the AWOL Giwa FC, and so you’d be tempted to say winning this is non-negotiable. After all, if you cannot beat the side in 19th, you might as well pack it in. They have only managed six wins all season, for crying out loud!
Well, if this season has taught us anything, it is that on Any Given Sunday (Al Pacino pun fully intended) anyone can beat anyone on home turf. Relegation seems all but inked for Ikorodu United – though Mathematics might have something to say – but they have put together a very impressive run lately.
Unbeaten in four games, including dealing a mortal blow to fellow strugglers Heartland, this is a team hitting a good vein of form. Too little, too late maybe, but if they’re going to go down, they’re certainly keen to go down in flames.
Just this weekend, they thumped Kano Pillars 4-1 in Abeokuta. It is amazing what a change of scenery can do; having laboured all season at Onikan Stadium, they are now rampant and making the most of a bad situation. Reminds you of a certain clubside, doesn’t it?
Arrest the train of thought. For one thing, the mental and spiritual connection of the Enyimba International Stadium has been years in the forging, and cannot be dismissed out of hand. Not quite the same thing. Consider also that we spent a significant of time at the mercy of the (insert befitting noun) that is the Umuahia Township Stadium, and you begin to grasp how it all went so bad for us this term.
Like I said some time ago, even our “bad” is only relative to our status and the expectation that comes with being Enyimba. There has been vocal dissent against the coaching crew of the team, but manager Paul Aigbogun is up for nomination by the LBA (League Bloggers Award) for the Manager of the Month gong for August. No one says he has been overwhelmingly brilliant, but a little dose of calm realism will show the sky is not falling.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see what he does with the team selection this time. Last time out against Niger Tornadoes, Alloy Browne led the line alone, as we made a departure from our trusty two-striker system and brought in an extra midfielder. The result would seem to indicate it was an unsuccessful gambit, so we might see the return of a 4-4-2. Am I the only one wondering how Ezekiel Bassey is feeling these days? The team could do with some trickery and invention in wide areas, really.
It was heartwarming to see Musa Najare in the XI. He made quite the entrance last season, only to be cut down by injury. Tenacious, committed and he can finish too, which is a nice bonus if you are listed as a striker (ahem!).
Our captain continues to be rested, though one wonders if it is time to bring him back in. The team is not leaking goals by any means – Ike ThankGod and Emmanuel Anyanwu have been brilliant – but it was at the tail-end of last season that Chinedu Udoji was banging in important goals to propel us. Could he do it again? Who knows with these things.
The game kicks off at 4p.m, and there will be updates on the LMC Twitter feed (@lmcnpfl) and @enyimbafc to keep you informed. We may also have updates of our own, so keep your eyes peeled.
Catch up tomorrow.