Katsina United’s brave fall on penalties, to Kano Pillars, in the semi-final of this year’s Aiteo Cup has a story in it, an unfancied northern side with an impressive (by our standards) youth system coming within only two games from continental football is worth talking about. But will we talk about it? Do we ever talk about how what happens in our football?

It’s a continuous cancer that eats up at our game, and this year’s federation cup only serves as one of the effects, another evidence in a long list of incriminating metaphorical documents that show why and how our football is lacking. Nobody has any interest in it, nobody wants to be interested in it, and nobody wants to interest us in it; so club football in Nigeria just goes past, like the most redundant extra in a movie set.

So, who’s to blame? Who bears the brunt of culpability over this increasing shitshow that is our game? Perhaps the most Nigerian thing about our football is the fact that no one will take responsibility, or be held accountable, so we let the mediocrity and haphazardness drift on.

Who’s to blame? The league body, because it’s more than happy to schedule two semi-finals in the same day (Rangers’ win over Nasarawa in the second semi also took place on the same day), at noon as well. The league body, because it moves league games to Monday mornings. The league body, because it cancels games set to be played on Easter holidays and reschedules them for the first working day after, because the fans they’re meant to attract won’t work to pay to see games. The league body, because it keeps no information on its players whose most reliable source of income are paltry bonus fees over continental games. The league body, because its marketability is as awful as its football, its lack of palpable revenue generation does its best to put off any prospective owners lingering out there.

Who’s to blame? The federation, because it’s more interested in grabbing sponsor finances than the players and clubs. The league body, because it would rather focus on its elections, as if the national ones don’t bother and sicken us enough. The federation because there are supposedly no funds to release to the league, but there are funds to fight over.

Who’s to blame? The media, because we’re more interested in covering the administrative elections than what happens on the pitch. The media because you tune in to an hourly programme on the radio, supposedly dedicated to sports in the morning of the cup semi-finals, championed by those who bellow media patriotism in your face, but you get nothing on the cup semi-finals until the programme’s final three seconds. The media because the said-renowned sports newspaper in the country doesn’t give a hoot and a half about the cup, that’s supposedly prestigious and reputable in nothing but name these days. The media because the only television that gives the league a lick apparently can’t tell a razor blade from a cutlass.

Who’s to blame? The country, because these days everything going on is a microcosm of its state. The country because we’d rather design supposedly indigenous brands in Asia. The country because its economy makes being a match-goer so ridiculously fanciful, its bashed in whatever scale of preference it falls in. Support the NPFL on Twitter, but do nothing nowhere else.

Are there solutions to these problems? Obviously. Are we ever going to talk about and get to the point of applying them? Don’t be absurd.

Published in Awa Football

Gather around ye children, to hear the tales of thee; as a new season of the Nigerian Professional Football League is about to begin; which means only a few days till spotkick’s own Shehu Idris returns from the wilderness (AKA the hands of a rogue federal squad wh… okay, that’s enough). A league that mirrors its country like no other, the surreal drama, the utter lack of organisation that makes Spain’s LFP and RFEF look like geniuses, and the unappreciated workers (i.e. players). Just hire some ghost managers, and we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

But little matter, this is, as our Shehu Idris said, the best league in the world (don’t compare), and spotkick’s newly-acquired ravens (again, Shehu Idris), have gone round the country on the tittle-tattle before the season begins- don’t worry, they didn’t go that far.

Our first stop is the North, of course (smart ravens, smart), where three months after winning their first ever league title, Plateau United held a ‘trophy parade’ (note: trophy parade in this country means taking the trophy to the State Governor and getting some welcome wads of cash). The champions begin their (doomed-to-fail) quest to retain the title with a trap- or is it trip- to face Nasarawa United, and will begin without goalkeeper Dele I-love-gisting Ajiboye, defender Daniel Itodo and midfielder Peter Eneji, who will all be aiding the home-based Eagles’ commendable effort to exit the African Nations Championship at the group stages in Morocco.

Still in North, it’s all eyes for the title by the looks of it, as El-Kanemi Warriors and new coach Imama Amapakabo have declared their aim is to win the big prize. So has Niger Tornadoes, but when you’re done laughing about that, remember no one fancied Plateau last year either. The Minna club have already signalled their intention to go all out by sacking their entire technical crew, headed by Coach Abubakar Bala, and giving them the generous opportunity of re-applying, presumably under new identities.

Also in the North, Yobe Desert Stars have made their way into the first division, with very little funds, so much so that they couldn’t afford to make new signings, or participate in the Nigerian National League’ Super Six pre-season tournament, so expect them to make their way back.

Then our ravens leave the North (it’s cold out there, you know), and head for the South-East, where they stumble on a couple of interns playing for Rivers United, who had the effrontery to ask Governor Nyesom Wike that their salaries be paid from the 2014/15 season (who do they think they are, Real Madrid?). After getting distracted by a handful of newly-erected exquisite statues in that region, our ravens check on Abia Warriors and new coach Raphael Everton (whose name sounds like that of a manager that will arrive in the English lower league to some fanfare, but leave with the club in the relegation zone). Then there’s dethroned champions Enugu Rangers, whose striker Kelvin Itoya has deemed as the ‘team to beat’ (so expect everyone to beat them), and who are coached by Gbenga Ogunbote.

At the sight of Ogunbote, our ravens are reminded to head for the West, where the quality has fallen faster than Mo’Cheddah’s musical career. Of the four teams that were relegated last season, three were from this side of the country- Shooting Stars of Ibadan, ABS of Ilorin, and the disgrace-in-football-club-clothing- Remo Stars for short. But somehow, MFM FC have gone against the routine of being inept down here, and actually managing to look like a football club that knows what they, and even booked a spot in the continental competition (The audacity!!! é ma bajéooo).

They’ll be kept company by Kwara United, another newly-promoted side, who are joined in the top-flight (lol ravens, we said flight) by the aforementioned Yobe Desert Stars, Go Round FC and five-time champions Heartland.

All make for an exciting viewing, if you can view clearly that is, the television rights are with NTA (yes, the same one).

Nevertheless, this is, and remains, the best league in the world (What part of don’t compare don’t you get).

 

 

Published in Awa Football

Kwara United President, Prince Oladimeji Thompson has revealed that the accident his team players and officials were involved in the early hours of today was great but gave God glory that no life was lost.

Reports have it that a bus conveying the Kwara United members was involved in an accident in Moniya, Ibadan, in the early hours of today.

The Afonja Warriors were en-route to their base in Kwara from Lagos where they participated in the Nigeria National League (NNL) Super 4.

Kwara United involved in a road accident
Kwara United bus after the accident

The President said that the three members of the team that suffered various degrees of injuries were responding to treatment.

 

Corroborating the president, the Team Manager, Jimoh Oke assured Nigerians that the officials and player that suffered injuries were doing well.

“A player and two officials were injured; they are responding to treatment,” Oke, as quoted by TheNaation ng.

“We thank God that no life was lost to the incident; we will proceed to Ilorin today.”

Kwara United will on Sunday, in Ilorin, lock horns with Niger Tornadoes in the opening day of the 2017/2018 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)

 

Published in Awa Football

The working one" Fidelis Ilechukwu has revealed that he took a leaf each from the books of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte as he helped steer the performance of MFM FC from relegation strugglers to title challengers in their second NPFL season. 

MFM FC struggled in the regressive water of relegation in their debut NPFL season, barely escaping the drop only for Heartland's indiscipline away at Wikki Tourists on the final game of the season. But the following season, fortunes turned for the 'Olukoya Boys' as they rose from the humbling grass of relegation battle to the grace of title challenge, although they eventually lost the title to Plateau United, Ilechukwu's tweak on this team was mind-blowing. 

Also Read: I want to be the next George Weah: Stephen Odey

In an Interview with Goal.com, the tactician highlighted the influence of big three of EPL had on his title challenge campaign. 

"I also adopted Guardiola's style of keeping the possession no matter the pressure during the match - the ball must be on the ground and the team must dominate.

"While Conte's philosophy of having fewer defenders and more players in the midfield and the attack was another tactic I used. So when things change, I can change to any of them.

"When I started early last season taking the risk and implementing those philosophies I adopted in our away games, we concede up to four goals. That's one result is different from the other, especially when we play away from home.

"For example in one of our home game against Gombe United, if not for the adoption of Mourinho's style of packing the box, we won't have survived the match because they gave us problems as they were fighting against relegation." He revealed. 

 

 

 

 

Published in Awa Football