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

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Mfon Udoh is Back + Football to the People. Full Match Preview; Enyimba vs Akwa United. 

It’s match day guys. Finally. 



We begin our quest to reclaim that Premier League Title from Pillars this afternoon when we face Akwa United. Yesterday’s Premier League encounters produced no goals so what better way than to score the first Premier League goal of the season?


There’s been a lot of articles you could feed your eyes on as we countdown to 4pm. There’s the tale of two managers, there’s the LMC’s Key battles column and of course for those who are unaware, how Anyansi Agwu got the striking boys back to the training ground. 


I would have been worried if the senior players wouldn’t be playing but thank God they are. Let’s also say they’ve gotten sufficient rest for their Champions League legs between Wednesday and Friday when they did not train. 


Akwa United led by Ex coach Zachary Baraje will be looking to spoil the party but there’s nothing to worry because we are better than his bunch. Am I counting the chicks before they are hatched? No biko. We should approach this game as professional as possible. We are better and have better fitness than Akwa United and we should see this through BUT ONLY WHEN WE DO THE REAL TALKING ON THE PITCH. Also the management has thrown the Stadium gates open, rumors have it that it’s one of the governorship aspirants that paying for everyone’s tickets. Power to the People? Ermmm maybe we can call this Football to the People. So it’s full voice from the fans too. 


In terms of selections, In the absence of Sokari Kingsley and Peter Onyekachi, Nzube Anaezemba and Raphael Boumsong should take their places. Of course we should go 4-4-2. Meaning that either of Kamal or Aliyu will partner Nzube in the middle. I’ll prefer the former who has done well in the Champions League games so far. There are fitness concerns surrounding Chinedu Udoji but I think he will play so you could see Udoji and Chibuzor Madu in the Center back positions. I learnt that there are a few dots and apostrophes yet to be finished on Ifeanyi Anaemena’s registration so we might need to wait a little longer before we see him. Chibuzor Madu has looked calm and assured since his return so he could be partnering Chinedu in the middle. Moreover he was the one thrown into the Buffles Fire and he came out unscatted. 


On the flanks, we should see Mfon Udoh back into the team. His exploits last season made him the most sought after player in the country but somehow his move did not materialize. Today everyone will be looking out for him as he faces his former club, let us hope he is up to it too. Abalogu should be at the opposite flank.


Fullbacks, Aloma and Esieme, I would’ve been tempted to play Ojobo though at right back. Kai, See me sounding like I’m the coach. Smh maybe Someday I will coach Enyimba but that should be after I have led the Super Eagles to the 2075 World Cup in India. 


The game is live on TV, so you can watch even if you’re in South Seoul. Ok, wants it with all these weird cities and countries? Whatever men. Offer us a prayer and stay glued to your TV. Keep the Channel on the particular SuperSport Channel that will show the game. The rest of us will be in our shrine, a jam packed Enyimba Stadium. Can’t wait. 


Enjoy the game, wherever you are watching from.


Cheers and here’s to a happy three points. 


‘EnyimbaEnyi

Three things; Heartland vs Akwa United

Akwa United was close to leaving Owerri with a point but they couldn’t find the much needed equalizer; Heartland hung on to win on the day. Here are 3 things from the match.

When will Heartland start playing like they are at home?

Heartland got the vital three points against Akwa United but as the 1-0 score line showed; their performance could have earned them less. Yes, good teams have days when they play poorly and still manage to grind out results but with Heartland such lackluster performances are fast becoming routine.

Gone are the days when Heartland is dominant at home. Nowadays, they are just barely limping over the finish line in matches. They have had 8 draws this season; the most in the championship, 5 of which was at home. Secondly, they don’t score enough goals. Of the 15 games they’ve played this season, they have scored more than one goal just once (their 2-0 victory against Rangers) all others were either none or just one. The table shows they have scored 11 and conceded 10; that says it all.

Good teams make their home ground formidable. They put up strong, attacking and clinical displays that make teams want to even throw in the towel before the ball is kicked but no, not in Owerri nowadays. Games like this one are nail biting, edgy and very tense for the fans.

Heartland were able to score the lone goal against Enyimba only very late into the game while Sharks, Dolphins, Nasarawa United, El Kanemi Warriors and most recently Abia Warriors all happily left Owerri with a point. In other words more than ever, teams now believe they can come to Owerri, put up a good performance and get rewarded.

Heartland must improve on their home front; they must do more in training to better their goal scoring, end their flirting with the lower bottom of the table and of course save their fans some agony.

 

Iwu: One for the future:

A lot has been said about the young Heartland goalkeeper Emmanuel Iwu and if he keeps up with his performances, he surely will be one of the best goalkeepers in the country.

He’s the youngest player in the Heartland first team but his commitment is unrivalled. His reflexes are sharp; his distribution impressive and same can be said of his handling. Thrown into the league at such a tender age, Iwu is proving with his displays that he wants to keep Ebele Obi permanently on the bench.

Heartland played Iwu against Enyimba and Kano Pillars in Kano and in both games, they got 4 points out of 6. Against Akwa United, he didn’t do much all game because the defence limited the Uyo side to long range shots that got sailing over the bar but in the second half, he pulled a world class save from Enezi’s goal bound volley. It was late in the game and had that effort gone in, it would have been another 2 points dropped for Heartland. The youngster proved his alertness and concentration to tip the ball over the bar.

Heartland have a promising youngster in Iwu and should he give it the commitment and hard work his vocation requires, he can become one of the best in the world.

Edo’s injury can benefit Akwa United:

Injuries are never a good thing but Akwa United can benefit from the news that Nnamso Edo is ruled out for at least 2 weeks due to a muscle injury. He has scored 5 of their 13 goals this season and he is beyond any doubt, one of the best dead ball specialists in the league but something about their display after he was stretched out that the Uyo team can learn from.

They have come to rely on him and his dangerous deliveries so much that it appears they are abandoning their own beautiful-to-watch attacking football. In the first half, they did very little except look hopefully when there was a set piece into the box but after the defender left in the second half, Godspower Aniefiok began to wave his magic, releasing a number of good balls that kept the Heartland defence on their toes.

Akwa will definitely have to cope with life without Edo’s dangerous set pieces but they have a play pattern capable of keeping them afloat till he returns.