“Corner-kick”: What qualifies a player as club Legend?

It is so difficult to define what exactly a legend is. It is one of the most overused terms in sports, and is so open to interpretation in a field like football where so much depends on subjectivity.

For instance, we can all agree that, to be a legend, one has to have been a great player. Yet, that is subjective, especially when evaluating different positions. A great striker is easy enough to decide: just look at his goals tally, right? And yet, that does not take into account what his role is in the team—some strikers exist to make space for others rather than to score themselves. If he is performing his assigned function excellently, then he is a great player.

However, to the fan who is not in a position to know what his assigned function from the coach is would not be able to appreciate it. See how complex it can get?

Some players are great, but we feel no real connection to them emotionally, and so we are reluctant to call them legends, especially at club level. Some are not so great, but will regularly beat their chest and kiss the badge and have us throwing roses at them. See?

I happened upon an interesting discussion on Twitter, as a fan insisted that Mfon Udoh is not an Enyimba legend, while Emeka Nwanna is. It was a very enriching discussion, as it got me thinking. It is an interesting example.

Mfon Udoh is, to this day, the highest scoring league player in a single season of Nigerian football. His record of 23, set three seasons ago, stands to this day. He also delivered a record seventh league title for Enyimba, and if that seems like a light thing, this came after a three-year period in which the league was monopolized by Kano Pillars.

That makes him, demonstrably, an Enyimba legend outright.

Emeka Nwanna is, as well, worthy to enter the discussion. The first-ever player in the league to be sold for a million Naira, he was a crucial part of Nigeria’s first-ever CAF Champions League triumph, lifting the coveted trophy with Enyimba in 2003. That also makes him, demonstrably, an Enyimba legend.

Both won laurels with the club, both changed the game in the local scene. So do we have our criteria then?

Not exactly. If this is what counts, then that would mean smaller teams would have no legends. So perhaps we need to tweak that, and accept that success is relative. For some, it is winning, for others, it might be something else.

No disrespect to him at all, but while Femi Thomas also won the league with Mfon Udoh at Enyimba, he cannot be considered a legend. Would Enyimba have won that title with another goalkeeper between the sticks? I believe so, and in fact there were three very good goalkeepers there at the time, rotating starting duties between themselves.

Now, for a club like Plateau United, who win their first-ever title last season, every player who played a crucial part in it is automatically a club legend. That’s because such a success is momentous, never-before-seen.

Same thing goes for the Rangers side that won the title two years ago, breaking a 32-year “jinx”. The weight of that burden lifted, the long wait, the rise of a sleeping giant, makes that title doubly meaningful.

For some clubs that may never aspire to a title triumph, longevity of playing career alone may be enough. For some whose aim is simply to avoid relegation, the scorer of a saving survival goal may even enter the discussion. It is not an exact science, but categorizing legends is certainly a stimulating mental exercise.

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Now that we have an ultramodern stadium…

I am elated by the news of our stadium coming back to us in a brand new state. I used the picture for my laptop wallpaper, a colleague saw it and asked whether it was Stamford Bridge.

We’re looking all professional again. But something tells me that the joy we experience now will soon give way to the status quo. Pardon my pessimism.

I am even tempted to cast and bind the idea the normal Nigerian way. But no. We should talk about this. Really.

For the records, I am a huge supporter of the club, but I speak out when things aren’t in shape and that’s my intention here.

That last time I was at the stadium, I beheld strange sights that should never exist in a modern stadium, nay club of our pedigree and I will highlight a few.

The Restroom debacle:

In the final match of the 2014 season where we hosted Kano Pillars, I noticed we had no known rest rooms for the fans in the various stands.

I saw a visiting fan relieve himself beneath one of the stairs that led to that stand by the right side of the VIP stand.

Taking a tour through the back side of the stands, I saw mounds of dried human shit. Disgusting!

“Now that our stadium is modern”, we need neat rest rooms with working water supply for the fans to relieve themselves at each of the stands.

Ticketing system:

Imagine visiting Stamford Bridge and touts with flaming wraps of marijuana stuck between their two first fingers are selling you sub-standard tickets amidst shoves and chaos. That’s a normal scenario in our stadium during match days.

Now that we have a modern stadium, can we modernize our ticketing system. Let the fans purchase their match tickets online before-hand and bring the evidence to the stadium during match days.

Crowd management

If our stadium is an 18,000 capacity stadium, should we sell tickets to over 20,000 fans? That’s of course not including the ones that came in by knowing the guy at the gate.

We can do better by selling tickets according to the number of empty seats, then provide viewing areas within the stadium when the seats are gone. Then again, there should be proper and accurate accountability for these tickets. It’s about time we really stepped up our game and standardized things.

Sponsorship

It’s really baffling how a club of Enyimba’s status with a constant appearance on the Continent is unable to convince businesses to sign up with the brand. I may not know the efforts going on underneath, but the one thing we all see shows that we have failed in that regards.

Now that our stadium is modern, we need to hire a team of marketing professionals to set the ball rolling. Avenues should be set in motion to generate revenue for the club.

Our online platforms

I like many others, ordered for the club jersey on the online store since 2015, up till this moment that jersey is still AWOL.

Now that our stadium is modern, we need a befitting and working online store to go with it. One that will collect payments and deliver. One that doesn’t go AWOL.

Most pages on our website are still empty. The media team should get to work. If content is their problem. I am available.

See you later. ***Hands MIC over to @EnyimbaEnyi

This blog was written by Mr. Sopuru Egbodo. He is a content creator, web manager and social media guru. Please follow him on twitter via @theSopuruEgbodo

Corner-kick: NPFL Players, Food and your performance.

Let’s talk about something we can all easily relate to. Let’s talk about food.

Birthrights have been sold for it, wars fought over it. It is necessary for survival, it is even more crucial for professional athletes.

I’m no doctor, but I know that, during physical activity, the body needs glucose to function. It gets this by metabolizing what we eat. And if you own an automobile, you know that the type of fuel matters. You cannot power your average salon car or SUV with kerosene. Similarly, heavy duty vehicles, like trucks and tankers, cannot run on petrol.

Where am I going with this? Well, think of us “regular” people as SUVs. Our daily routines and work schedules consist mainly of white-collar stuff. For professional athletes, they perform high-energy bodily functions every single day: they are trucks.

That means that, for them, their fuel ought to be different. Why then do we claim to be running a professional league in Nigeria when there is no oversight regarding how our “professional” players nourish themselves?

You would think our clubs would employ (and use) nutritionists to monitor and draw up meal plans for their players to follow, in order to ensure meals are eaten at the right times, that the right foods for the release of energy are eaten on matchdays. You would be wrong.

Instead, our players eat the same meals, with the same recklessness, as you and I. The same eba, pounded yam, you name it… Wolfed down with huge servings of red meat. Mind, these meals are not necessarily gotten from the most sanitary vendors, oh no. Under trees, in shacks, sitting on benches by a sewage drain. Yes, you know the type. All under the club’s nose, and with their endorsement.

To be fair, this isn’t simply a failing on the part of the clubs. The players themselves are also culpable. As a footballer, your body is your workspace and your toolkit, and you are aware of this. If the club fails in its responsibility to ensure that the player it has purchased for an exorbitant fee gets the proper nutrition to do the job he is being paid an exorbitant amount to do, what should you do about it?

Commonsense would dictate that you get a nutritionist and consult on feeding plans. Many of them complain about how they’re not treated like Cristiano Ronaldo. Well, guess what? Up until this summer, Ronaldo played for the richest club in the world. He still employed and paid a physical therapist from his own pocket, and invested in equipment to aid his fitness and recovery. The man is still going strong at an age where most would have packed up.

Alright then, so you don’t want to spend the huge sums you’re paid as salary for this. Understandable; in Nigeria, money can go very quickly once immediate and extended families open their beaks and cry. Get on the internet then, with those expensive phones you own, and Google ‘meal plans for professional athletes’. Go from there. It really is that simple.

Instead, we have a system such as we do now. Much as we are sympathetic to the plight of the players, they must bear some of the responsibility themselves. It seems both sides instead try to cut costs and shortchange the other. As the pidgin saying goes, “Cunny man die, cunny man bury am”

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

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

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

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

Enyimba sign Sunday Adetunji and some exciting stuff for our blog audience

Good morning All!

We making progress, aren’t we? Baby steps maybe but some water got squeezed out of the rock. Finally we have a transfer confirmed by the Enyimba Secret Club. Where the omertà code is what governs all that’s said and done! The club has announced the signing of Abia Warriors striker Sunday Adetunji.

We did mention it on the blog a few days ago, after we learned that the Esosa deal didn’t pull through. True to their nature, the club eventually nodded in agreement. We understand that it’s a loan deal – just like the transfer of Peter Onyekachi two seasons ago. What that means is – if for some reason someone is willing to buy him, we’ll get zilch zero nothing.

But that’s ok. We don’t really care, do we? The other angle is the fact that we do look very abundant in strikers right now. Evidently Enyimba is a club founded on the basis of money – we can sign anyone out there who has ever scored a goal in his life. I can quickly count on my fingers and name 8 strikers at the club. Don’t be too surprised, it’s more or less a tradition for us.

Moving forward, we have a few innovations courtesy of the blog. This weekend, we have fans go head to head on twitter for a chance to win 5000 Naira. Yep 5K. This Saturday at about 7pm local time. We are speaking with our sponsor to make it a weekly thing but he’s yet to ok it. As it stands, it’s probably going to be every two weeks! More details in tomorrow’s blog.

Also we are introducing a special Thursday evening blogpost titled “Corner-Kick”! It’s an opinion piece and it is open to anyone who wants to air his views on any issue relating to the club. The first post will be up here on the blog later today and I’ve looked at it- you don’t wanna miss it. It’s that good!

The boys head to Côte d’Ivoire as the return legs of the CAF Confederations Cup comes upon us. I can’t possibly imagine how they have had to keep up their fitness and concentration levels with the no League action and no salaries. We just have to get a result from somewhere if we have hopes of making it into the semis. Hopefully we can rouse ourselves as at other times to see this one out.

Finally for today, if you have some free data, I’ll encourage you to get on YouTube and search for past Enyimba matches on there. I did spend sometime watching a couple yesterday and it did make me feel some good. You should too, if you can.

That’s all for today, there’s “Corner-kick” in a few hours.

Back tomorrow

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Well, Enyimba does have a new head coach

Good morning Guys,

So let’s talk a little about our new gaffer. It’s no longer news that our dearly beloved Paul Aigbogun has left his post at the club. Unceremoniously as his second coming, the club towed a path that totally made a mess of the initial decision to hire him.

Make no mistakes about it, I do love Mr. Paul Aigbogun. I think he’s a smart man and probably the most educated of the coaches in the league. As a human too, he appears a very nice person and in the early days of his second missionary journey here, there were some obvious changes especially in how he related with the media.

Someone suggested that he used Enyimba to get the Under-20 job (He’s currently the National under-20 Coach) and while that is subject to debate, the big questions are around his appointments – both the first and the second. The first is logical, his Warri Wolves side having pushed us to the penultimate game of the season. They also did play some very good football and he was the logical choice to replace Ikhana.

But that appointment didn’t work out as planned. Enyimba was playing their first (of three) seasons away from Aba and the journeying about plus a CAF Champions League Group stage run took some toil on the team. It all went badly and the club ended the season trophy-less for the first time in a long long time. We finished without any kind of Continental football promise the next season with a worst finish in ten years. He was shown the door.

Gbenga Ogunbote came in and with the team based in Calabar, he did his best to steady the ship. He didn’t play a very attractive brand of football but he got some decent results and ensured the club finished in the third and final Continental place. The shock was that the club had no plans to retain him and eventually didn’t renew his contract. Their replacement? Paul Aigbogun, again. Expectedly, there was some reaction, most of it negative because the previous season’s performance.

Shockingly, he got off to a flier and notched up some decent results. Then the under 20 job came and that was it. There were whispers of some sort of ruckus with the powers that be. So maybe he was fired or he just resigned or there was some mutual termination, somehow the infamous reunion got cut short.

But the club didn’t think announcing the departure of their head coach was necessary. The fans don’t deserve to know – they don’t deserve to be told something as important as a change of the head coach. Funny but acts like this make fans actually wonder if they are truly connected with this club as they feel they should be. These sorts of acts go a long in affirming that the top guns at the club lack an understanding of the true value of this club. This, ladies and gentlemen is very sad!

Well guys, there’s a new man at the helm of things at the club. He is Usman Abd’allah. You must have seen him on the dugout two days ago when we played Williamsville. And he’s been around for a little bit – from the start of the season I hear. Hopefully we can get more details off him and some interview sometime.

My word count is up for today. Let’s talk again tomorrow.

Till then,

‘EnyimbaEnyi

Enyimba 1-0 Williamsville

Good morning All,

Our CAF Confederations Cup campaign remains on track after we saw off the challenge of Ivorian side Williamsville in Port Harcourt yesterday. Our favorite Enyimba striker Ibrahim Mustapha got the only goal of the game just after 7 minutes, it proved enough.

The game itself was hardly a stellar show with lots of hoofing and puffing. Injuries followed the tackles (Ibenegbu was victim of one of those trampings couldn’t make it till halftime) but despite a threatening show by the visitors late in the first half, they never really did take advantage.

Was there really much we learnt from the performance? I’d say hardly. We did look unfit and on the look of it, unsurprisingly. I saw a video of the boys warming up few days to the game – it looked anything but appealing. They looked heavy, it almost looked like a group of pensioners trying to keep fit. Change my glasses for me if you think I’m being insincere.

But let’s be honest, it’s quite difficult keeping fitness levels high especially with the surrounding premises. The League had been on a halt for over a month and well, for the foreseeable future now it seems. Then it also emerged that the players haven’t been paid their salaries. That piece of information emerged after the game.

It’s two way for me. Look, I’m not a party to owing people salaries, but you can’t take that as an excuse to lower your performance in a game of this significance and magnitude. If we had lost this game, it would have been near impossible making it out of this group. The salaries will be paid nonetheless, but if your poor performance cost you qualifying from the group, you only played yourself.

The sorry state of the pitch played a part too. It’s shocking that our sports ministries at every level in the country cannot manage our facilities. Imagine how much money was spent on building that Adokiye Amiesimaka complex yet we can’t spend one hundredth of that amount to maintain it. We are not serious yet and we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Hopefully, this is the last time we get to play away from home. I hear the new Aba Stadium isn’t ready and fit to meet CAF standards with the current work ongoing there. Let’s hope it is ready for subsequent fixtures. Gotta confess though, what we have seen so far of ongoing works there is nothing short of spectacular.

But guys we won a game today and we are top to the CAF Confederations Cup Group C with six points. Williamsville and Djoliba both have four and Cara is bottom of the pile with three. We just need to go away from home and get us any kind of point. It’s a funny group and you can see from the standings, these teams would lose away and win at home. We just need some away Joy. But again we won yesterday and that’s some cheerful news.

You can see highlights of the game here.

That’s your lot today.

Back tomorrow,

‘EnyimbaEnyi