Enyimba stadium makes history and somebody will win our 5K this week

Good morning Brethren,

The countdown is on as we ready to return home. It’s happening folks, it is so happening and today I’ll like to throw in some recent discovery that came to me a couple of days ago.

So we were in our Enyimba Whatsapp Group when the contractor handling the Enyimba stadium told us our Aba Stadium was the largest playing surface that FIFA had ever approved. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me and I’ve asked someone who did to explain it to us.

Before he does, I’ll like to give the question for our ThatEnyimbaFan giveaway this Friday. Remember your correct answer qualifies you for the finals on Twitter this Friday. Please submit your correct answer to thatenyimbafan@gmail.com. It’s important to heed the instruction. Any other answers anywhere else is disqualified.

Which of the following Nigerian greats never coached at Enyimba?

a. Daniel Amokachi

b. Augustine Eguavoen

c. Stephen Keshi

d. Amodu Shaibu

All the best.

So it’s 1.10am, I decided to check my tweeter page before I shut down for the morning as it were, unfortunately I got into this explanation about Enyimba’s Pitch Size and that was how i was hooked.

Earlier on Monday, there was this issue about the pitch size of my darling club Enyimba and how it holds the record of “the biggest playing surface” approved by FIFA/CAF.

In all honesty I wasn’t concerned and of course I waved it off as sham, but done with the days job, I wanted to be busy so I dug  into the earlier discussion.

Maybe, just maybe it could be true. You ask how I came about this? Relax, so you can digest this.

The first question that comes to mind is…where is the biggest playing surface in the world located? Now remember I am not talking the biggest stadium (in terms of capacity) in the world, that would be Rungrado May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea.

I am talking pitch size, playing surface, however you understand it…..so in Spain, the biggest stadium in my findings is the Martínez Valero stadium (Elche) with a pitch size measuring 108m x 70m, and In England the biggest is The City Ground (Nottingham Forest) 105m x71m and Hillsborough (Sheffield Wednesday) 106m x 69m, while in Italy my findings showed it is San Siro 105m × 68m and on and on.

But you ask what is Enyimba’s pitch size really? the contractor in the person Mr Egbi Egbe AKA Moni-Michelle says the pitch size is 110m x 74m making it the biggest I have seen so far in my short research…may be I will need to do more.

So is it safe to say Enyimba has the biggest pitch size approved by FIFA? Till I see another dimension bigger than that of Enyimba, may be we just have to make do with what we have.

Will that translate to Enyimba “flogging” some teams silly?  I sure do hope so. But in the meantime, can the people’s Elephant just come back to their fortress?

‘EnyimbaEnyi

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Exciting new idea but same old poor quality

Good morning All,

We might have to do a little none Enyimba stuff today. Not just because there’s not much by way of Enyimba news but as stakeholders of the game, it would be wrong if we don’t highlight something wrong that needs to be changed or better still, put paid to. Let’s delve right in, shall we?

A couple of days ago, I got here on the blog and praised the initiative of the University’s football league. We talked about how something fresh and exciting was being birthed. It’s called a League and it’s sponsored by Stanbic Bank and Indomie and on the day of the launch, we saw a few DSTV guys hanging around.

Fast forward, and this League has kicked off. The disappointment that greeted me turns heavier than the excitement I had. First and foremost, the games are not on TV. I’ll start with that. With the opportunity of no local football on our screens, isn’t this quality content someone can take advantage of?

Ok so no TV, how about live streaming? It does not cost the world. We lament how out of touch Football administrators in this country are. If you want people to get interested in your stuff, make some noise and put it right at their faces. That’s no rocket science, is it? Do we even learn? Can we not at the least copy the successful systems?

Every college in the US has their games out there, from Lacrosse to Football, boys and girls alike. If not on TV, there are livestreams. Same with the MLS- the US version of the NPFL. Have you ever watched the MLS? It’s the most comical thing you would ever see, but guess what? They don’t care. It’s out there and despite being less quality than the European leagues, people still watch it.

The other option would be to have social media updates. Just like…you know, the European leagues and the NPFL do. But the University’s Football Leagues official handle simply posts results when it feels like and asks followers to predict scores. Are you kidding me? People follow you for a reason, they need information. Why not feed them this information?

Am I being too harsh? Maybe but if you’re not ready to up your game to the basic standard, get off the stage. I did see pictures of the pitch where the Unilag and Uniben game took place. My village playground is better. Couldn’t the organizers have sourced better pitches? At least for a display to the world that you do mean business? But no, it’s the same Nigerian effect. The excuse we quickly pop up for every low quality delivery.

We have to start training ourselves for better. Excellence is not a skill, it is an attitude and as a country, we must be committed to excellence. It is the least the world expects of us and we must begin to expect same of ourselves.

#ThatEnyimbaFanGiveaway returns tomorrow. You wanna win 5K? Don’t miss tomorrow’s blog.

Till then,

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Monday ramblings: Preparing for Djoliba

Good morning All!

So we didn’t blog yesterday; I got knocked out. It appears that certain responsibilities married people have, do have strong effects on them. Pause those dirty thoughts, I’m talking of loosing braids. Have you ever loosened a lady’s braids? Oh bro, It is by far, the most difficult task on earth. No jokes.

Anyway, I survived but then the cruel reminder that until the kids start coming, it’s gonna be part of my chores whenever Madam goes “a-braiding”. My wisdom will be to ensure that we explore lighter and easier hair styles for the time being. Amen.

Well guys, we ready for Match Day 5 in our Continental sojourn this season. We play Mali’s Djoliba in 13 Days in what is a make or break fixture for us. We sit in third position on the log, two points above the Malians whose qualification looks most unlikely of the quartet. To be honest, any two can still progress from our Group but someone needs an away win to help their cause.

This is why our August 19th fixture is beyond crucial. Hopefully we should be able to win our final game of the Group at home to CARA Brazzaville- it’s our first home game at the Aba Stadium and our fans should be in good voice on the day. But our forthcoming clash against Djoliba in Bamako, has everything resting on it.

The team has yet to play any more friendlies since the defeat away at Abidjan. And you would hope the management has plans of getting that sorted out in the near future because with the League in an indefinite break, Match fitness becomes a big concern. It does remind one of the gaffer’s post match conference views after that infamous game in Abidjan.

It was difficult for the players to maintain the same level of consistency throughout the game because of fitness issues,” Abdallah told the media.

“The long World Cup break is having its adverse effect on my players. We tried as must as possible to train and be ready for the game but we can’t compare that with having test games that will keep us ready and charged up.

We started the game very well and had a few opportunities to score but we were unable to convert them. We couldn’t cope for a long period because of fitness issues”.

If ever there were Grade A friendlies, now is the time to bring them on. You would think friendly games against the likes of Akwa United and Enugu Rangers could come in handy at this time. Hopefully the club can get this sorted. Staying fit for Djoliba is not debatable.

That’s all I’ve got strength for today.

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Preparing for the future; the Goalkeeping situation at the club

Good morning All,

Not much going on and nothing new to report; how soon before we start discussing prayer and fasting or would #OccupyDalung produce results faster? Having a blog under these circumstances is the second most difficult task on earth. Lord help me.

Well, as I sat wondering what to write, I got thinking of our goalkeeping situation yet again. We currently have four senior goalkeepers – Fatau Dauda, Theophilus Afelokhai, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Friday Achimugwu. I’ll love to drop my thoughts on all four. I have freedom of speech on my blog, don’t I?

Fatau Dauda was signed by the club in December 2016 and he came well experienced and well travelled. It was a signing that didn’t and still doesn’t make a lot of sense, not because I have any personal issues with Dauda, but because there was Afelokhai who was still at the club. And in terms of quality, there’s not so much to choose between both of them.

Dauda began as a sort of an away day charm for us, winning us decent points in those early games till somehow the honeymoon ended. Dauda became first choice home or away. Strangely, rather than Afelokhai rise up to the challenge, he sort of threw in the towel without much of a challenge. He seemed quite ok with playing second fiddle and playing from the bench.

Then the big shock, we stepped up and signed Ikechukwu Ezenwa- Super Eagles goalkeeper the season after that. I won’t say much about him till the end of the season when we make a decision as we clearly cannot have all three of them at the club. Hopefully the club has a plan, they should, shouldn’t they? There’s no way all three can remain at the club.

But It’s the fourth man in the fire I’m more interested in because unknown to a lot of people, Friday Achimugwu is not just the youngest but he is the most talented goalkeeper in our team. He is fourth in the order but that is because for some reason those making decisions are more about the hype than taking care to observe talent, quality and longevity.

Achimugwu is clearly the one for the future and it’s about time we started planning with that in mind. You observe the attitude of the trio ahead of him in the pecking order (especially in training) and you see those basic elements of hunger and positive attitude which keeps a player on their toes and constantly improving is missing.

I don’t know what Achimugwu’s contract situation is and how much longer he will stay with us, but I’ll long for him to man our posts for a very long time in the future. I think he has the quality to become one of the best goalkeepers in this country. And like my reports on Ikouwem, this is an honest, sincere and unbiased post. And for the records, I’ve never had any conversation with Achimugwu before.

I’m gonna nicely and quietly tuck in my “I told you so” blog post for the future.

That’s all for today,

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi

League resumption: Yes? No? Ok, No problem

Good morning Guys,

By the close of work yesterday, our emotions were on the descent of what has been a roller coaster ride with regards to the standstill that is Nigerian Football. Someone had tweeted that the League would resume next week, by the end of the day, no it was unlikely.

Just Incase you’re from Mars and you didn’t get the memo, there was an NFF Congress in Benin yesterday. It was a very full house. And at the end of which a communique was released. And of significance on this communique is that Giwa FC, the football club of “He that troubleth the NFF“, Ambassador Chris Giwa was being re-admitted into the NNL.

Well, the Sports minister responded soon afterwards, stating that the communique was null and void pending the court judgement which should be sometime toward the end of September. The significance of this being – The NFF elections thus might not hold as scheduled.

Secondly, with the FA Cup still yet to be played and League having about 14 games to go, we are in danger of missing out the deadline for CAF registration. Then of course there is the threat of a FIFA ban which would grind to a halt Nigeria’s involvement in International football activities. So the personal fight of two men has the whole country to ransom.

It’s not surprising that we are here. I think the real problem with us as a country is that the system is not strong enough. Some guy can just wake up and hold up the whole country and he would not be held accountable. Right from the Presidency to the Police, everyone is stronger than the system.

This is how the West is different. When the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, guess what happened? The US Soccer President Sunil Gulati resigned. And although it was his Vice President that eventually won the subsequent elections, at least you could see someone step up and take responsibility.

Should we start planning for life without football for the next eight years? Maybe we should. Trouble is, our Sports ministry has not put in any efforts to grow other sports. Our athletes for instance basically take care of themselves. This is unlike in the West where for an athlete to represent his country, he is in for some good money. Wonder why we lose athletes to other countries?

Why am I engaging my energy so much on these issues? It’s simple. Someone reading my blog today could become a Sports administrator tomorrow. You could be appointed the chairman of a football club, the Sports minister or a head in some capacity in the future. Please, please, please, be different.

That’s all I got today,

Back tomorrow.

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Corner-kick: How we can get the best of Mfon Udoh again.

There is a major scarcity of competitive football for Enyimba right now, and so we are unfortunately stuck re-living that disappointing defeat in Abidjan.

The reactions to that result have been all over the place, with some saying we did not deserve to lose, and others saying it should have been even worse. The truth, as they say is in-between: I don’t think Enyimba were as bad as some make out, but there was certainly a lot wrong with our play.

I, for one, was quite excited when I read the starting line-up and saw the captain of the side had been selected. However one feels about Mfon Udoh’s career trajectory, he is still one of the most naturally gifted players in the team, and will score goals when fit.

However, if there is one thing that has always bothered me, it is the manner in which he is utilized. By this time, we almost always expect our coach(es) to line up the team in a 4-4-2 shape. One wonders whether this is simply a matter of necessity, with the way the club stockpiles strikers. However, fielding two strikers as well as Mfon wide causes the team a lot of problems, and really does not play to his strengths.

If there is one thing I have observed from watching football over the years, it is that before a goal is conceded, there is often some sort of warning.

A smart manager sees this warning quickly and heeds it, making a slight adjustment, even if only for a while, in order to plug that hole.

The move that culminated in the opener for AC Williamsville had happened earlier in the half, but Dauda had pulled off a good save low at his near post. That was the signal to address the problem: we were not dealing well with late runs from midfield into the gaps in our defence.

This is where the formation comes in. Mfon is very much a forward, and you want him to remain up the pitch in case the ball is turned over, and not drop too far back. Combine that with two strikers upfront, and you are only defending with seven players.

With the Williamsville winger dragging our left-back Ikouwem Udoh very wide, space opened up between him and our centre-backs. That is the space that the hosts attacked through to score.

What is the solution then? Well, stop the obsession with 4-4-2. If you must play that, play Mfon Udoh as part of the front two, and then introduce someone who will track back, so you can have your most dangerous player upfront. As we saw, there is little point to having Chukwude and Mustapha upfront together.

Spilled milk, probably, but if we don’t learn anything from failure, then we are doomed to fail over and over.

Happy New Month: We return home in 28 days…

Happy New Month folks,

it’s first of August and in 28 days we will be returning home! Cheerful news ain’t it? It is to me. But you always knew that, so maybe that’s where the cheerful news ends.

I miss when my blog was all happy. When I’ll get here and wax lyrical about Ezekiel Bassey or Christian Obiozor. When I’d praise Mfon Udoh and his goalscoring heroics, alas those times are a distant memory right now; and to be honest, I miss writing happy posts.

I saw a post yesterday and I’ll like to share –

It comes down to a very simple saying: There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.

It’s Wednesday and the League resumption is not in sights yet. The World Cup has come and gone and yet our players sit at home. Nigeria has a club still playing in the Continent and league games would have been immensely beneficial but no way, we still sit at home. Reasons for this of course is clearly tied to Mr. Giwa and his NFF Leadership dreams.

The situation with Giwa has masked the other problems we are used to as regards the League. We still have our very evil officiating, we still have the occasional fan trouble that come up once in a while and of course the state of our facilities. I’m looking at our sports administrators and honestly, they have become good at managing the wrong way.

Here’s my example.

Yesterday, there was a storm on social media regarding the athletics meet in Asaba. Complaints of poor organization and planning. Athletes from other countries stranded in Lagos and such logistic problems. And this is an African Athletics meet. I tell you what, we have ruined our chances of hosting this event again in the foreseeable future.

It’s just like the forthcoming Presidential elections. Whoever says our choice has to be either PDP or APC? Haven’t we learnt? Haven’t we learnt that a person’s party does not substitute for competence? We have a sports minister who takes every chance to drop a gaffe. And this is someone who took about 6 months to appoint.

From the very depths of my soul, I cry for change. I cry for a revolution. I cry for the right people being at the right places.

In 28 days we will return to our stomping ground; our beloved Enyimba stadium.

It’s been a strange post today, maybe I’ve got too many thoughts all at once. Pardon me, maybe tomorrow’s will be better.

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Are we spending too much on NPFL player salaries?

Good morning All,

Oh I felt it. The pain of Sunday’s defeat and in no small way, the blog felt it too. There was almost nothing happening here on the blog all through yesterday with only a handful of the visits we are used to. I get it, I wish I can help it. Clearly I can’t. I need to start fasting and praying for better times at the club.

So what’s for today? Something quite delicate and I tell you, it took me a great deal of reluctance to actually get myself to writing this blogpost today. It’s been a trend for a little while, spanning into years and into the history of our club. It’s Enyimba and her rash and largely overhyped signings.

I felt the nod from most of you especially those who have been around the club for a while. We are very spendthrift. We would start off every season with tonnes of players and before long, we find out that most of them are the wrong signings. To make matters worse, they usually are on very crazy salaries too.

I’m ruffling some feathers today, no doubt but I think it’s time someone spoke of it. We have some players who earn over half a million every month. Some much closer to that million mark. And when you compare this salary with reciprocal game time /output on the field of these players, you’ll be grossly disappointed. We have a player who is on about 700K who have not made up to five starts this season!

To be honest, this did not start this season. It’s been up for a while – for instance, we just sign up anyone who has the record of having scored a goal at some point in their lives and at the end of the season, they can only boast of two or three league goals. We had one sometime ago, a certain Raphael Boumsong who went an entire season without any league goal.

Why do we have strikers on bumper salaries who can’t offer us 7 goals in an entire season? Many have suggested this goal-drought is diabolical – many say there are things that happen only at the club but to be honest, I think that’s bullshit. Anyone meddling with juju and voodoo is only digging a grave for himself. It’s not a curse – it’s actions and consequences.

I think as a matter of urgency, the club must reevaluate her transfer policy and the salaries they hand out. And while I’m talking Enyimba today, this extends to every other NPFL club. Someone needs to sit and ask if paying a footballer an amount the regular bank manager won’t make in a month is even wise.

Yes I understand Football is a short career and you’ll need to get as much as you can while you still got your legs but performance-related salaries is a win-win for everyone. It will push players to optimum levels which in turn reflects on the results the club posts. Our condoning mediocrity is the reason why our players can’t pass European trials.

It also will put a spotlight on coaching and coaches. Every coach should have a dossier on each player on the team- a picture of their strengths and weaknesses and how they can within a specific time frame improve that player. There are lifestyles that inhibit peak athlete performance – if players know their performance is related to their pay check, they will make smarter lifestyle choices for themselves.

I hope we can fix this situation otherwise we will keep boasting of the largest paycheck in the league yet posting mediocre results.

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Three things: Williamsville 2-0 Enyimba

Good morning fam,

It’s more of a prophecy – the greeting above, because it does feel anything but a goodly morning. Our CAF Confederations Cup campaign took a tumble as we fell 2-0 to a very organized and well tutored Ivorian side yesterday. All hopes that this is where we would find our “missing” away joy was all puffs as a goal in each half sealed our fate.

Here are my three things.

1. We were NOT the better of the two sides: That’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Well, someone did point out that we just didn’t take our chances and we played better than they. That’s very untrue. Someone counted 16 shots from us and only one was on target.

We didn’t look like scoring all game, whereas for the hosts, they just let us have the ball for long periods and when they felt tired, they just went down the other end and scored. They had chances to make this a cricket score line – they were just in a merciful mood. They clearly were more purposeful and clinical.

2. Are our players worth as much as they are paid? After the game I tweeted; “A lot of these NPFL players are not worth half of what they’re being paid”. I stand by that. Look at what we pay in salaries and measure the corresponding output and you realize we are almost being scammed. How would any professional footballer head out of that pitch yesterday and be satisfied with his contribution?

We have players on almost a million Naira every month yet there’s no ounce of quality that distinguishes them. We can’t pass the football well, we can’t find the target, we can’t make purposeful tackles nor can we defend. On the basis of yesterday’s show, you can find 11 players from Etche Road field who will perform better.

3. Strange Group; we need a miracle to go through. Everyone wishes we make it out of this Group, yours truly too but are we honestly good enough for the next round? I don’t think so. We have trained ourselves to be fairly ok at home and totally useless away. This is why despite teams of similar mentality being in this Group, we can’t prove to be any different.

In fact, the only difference is that for a team we beat 1-0, they’re beating us 2-0 at their place. By yesterday morning, we were in first place, today we are in third and with two match days to go, we have genuine reasons to be worried.

Coach Usman does have his hands full with what needs to be done. Maybe a better playing surface will help give us a definite playing pattern but truth is we do have a lot of work to do to save our season.

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Williamsville v Enyimba: time to show something different

Good morning Guys!

It’s a match day. Our boys will line up this evening at the Stade Robert Champroux stadium in Abidjan as we look to consolidate our stand atop the 2018 CAF Confederations Cup Group C. The kickoff is 5pm. Although some sources quote 6pm. I’d just say, have the evening free.

It’s a TV game which means we have an opportunity to watch our boys slug it out against the Ivorians. Interestingly, it is the same opponent we beat last week – thanks to Ibrahim Mustapha. A similar score line in our favor will have us singing Hallelujah on our beds tomorrow evening.

On paper, this is a Group we should have no problems qualifying from. Having watched the three other teams, I think we have it in us to dispatch them but then the last time we played away from home in the Continent, we got pummeled 3-0. It wasn’t just a bad day, it was an insipid, limp and horrible performance.

But this is a clean slate and based on the table and performances of everyone prior to this time, any kind of point away from home will put us in a strong position. To be honest, teams in our group are making it look very NPFL-ish; win at home, lose away! So any draw or point on the road means we are odds on to make it into the semis.

If we set up to defend, it will most likely come back to haunt us! if we remember how they were all over us in that first half in Port Harcourt, it’s only logical that such space and freedom on the ball in front of their home support will be impossible for us to contain. So I think we should attack but with Arsene Wenger’s handbrake on. We can get a result here.

By way of personnel, it’s unlikely Ikechukwu Ibenegbu will feature. I have no idea if he has recovered in time for this game. Otherwise the team chooses itself. Uche John paired Nelson Ogbonnaya last time out- unless Anaemena is better prepared. It’s all Usman Abd’allah’s call to make, hopefully he is inspired to make the best decisions.

Finally for today, our ThatEnyimbaFan know your club contest took place on Twitter yesterday. Congratulations to everyone who took part; from the guy who won 5K, to the guys who got a tithe of that amount as consolation prizes. The good thing is, in a fortnight, the quiz will be back. You’ll do yourself some good to keep ears open for that.

Back tomorrow and all the best to the lads this evening.

‘EnyimbaEnyi