It was Match Day 6 in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL). This stage was in Umuahia, Abia State: a quite wet football field that looked like a rodeo. Well, can’t blame anyone. It had rained not too long ago (I think) and the water-logged pitch was now divided into tiny little patches of green which provided even more entertainment as the players miscalculated passes, could not stop slipping and falling and got past each other very easily. Hilarious right? I know!
Enugu Rangers, a side amongst the top 4, was guest of an unbeaten Abia Warriors side. Rangers wanted to “keep keeping up” with the clubs the top. The Warriors wanted to remain unbeaten – after this match at least. And guess what? It was an Oriental Derby! (that’s what Mike and the other commentator called it.) Should be super fun right?
4 goals were scored in this high-tempo, no-dull-moment game – most of them beautiful goals. Although Abia Warriors were a bit too wasteful and should have won the game by a stretch, the match ended in a draw. Spoils shared. But, as can be compared with a movie, a game usually has it’s Actors (the Good Guys) and the Boss (the Bad Guys). But what if a player was both the good guy and the bad guy at the same time? What if he was the Flop of the Match and Man of the Match at the same time? Impossible? Let me explain…
But before I do, let me quickly mention that:
– There Were Vocal Fans…
Which is a sign of the increasing love that Nigerians are showing towards their own. Was nothing close to the kind of noise that the WestfalonStadion (not sure about the spelling) usually experiences every weekend but, for Nigerian football, this was good. There were drums – and trumpets too just in case you were wondering. The home fans voiced out whenever the referee made a decision against their team or whenever their team lost a beautiful scoring opportunity.
There were fans rocking their club jersies and those who couldn’t get into the stadium watched either from the comfort of their homes close to the stadiums or from the top of on-going constructions around the stadium. There were beautiful ladies that came to watch the game too! Talk about being a fan! You should pick a club too you know and pledge your allegiances. Join the train!
– … and Beautiful Goals on Display
Not that beautiful goals have been scarce in the NPFL – see last season’s highlights for proof – but when players are good enough – and calm enough and smart enough too! – to score beautiful goals in derbies where tension is high and bragging rights are at stake, then those goals – and their scorers – are worthy of mention. The pick of the bunch was Chisom’s freekick. It was a combination of smartness, taking advantage of the opponent’s error and exquisite finishing. Even the poor-looking pitch had nothing on this one!
Lol… it was that good.
Just outside the 18-yard box of their opponents, Enugu Rangers were awarded a freekick. As usual the Warriors’ goalie arranged his wall and… chose to position himself behind it! Chisom noticed this, swiftly curled the ball past the wall, made sure it was far enough from the goalkeeper’s left hand and precise enough to kiss the post and slide in. Talk about a beautiful goal. The NPFL players serve that kind of dish too!
There was Bobby Clement’s goal too! You’d have thought Messi was on the pitch. The build up to the goal was all African. The goal itself looked like something out of Europe. Clement, inside the opponent’s box, faked a kick, switched the ball to his left foot – “deleting” an Abia Warrior player in the process – and curled the ball into the far left corner of the goal. Another beautiful goal for a great game!
When an attacking player has team mates that constantly supply him passes and crosses and continually open up defenses for him, that player should end up scoring a lot right? Not Chikatara. I mentioned earlier that Abia Warriors were wasteful in front of goal right? Well, to be more specific: Chikatara was more than wasteful in front of goal. And SELFISH TOO!
The kid kept throwing away the chances that came his way! It was like he was trying so hard to be the Flop of the Match. To cap it all, he kept trying to dribble past every player… and kept falling short with almost every attempt.
What happens when this same guy, after he has missed all the chances that came his way, kept trying and later scored a crucial goal that saved Abia Warriors’ unbeaten run?
I’ll let you decide. (I choose #BitterSweet)
To divert a bit…
MFM FC is turning heads with the way they play their football. They’ve been touted to play like Arsenal, score like Barcelona and defend like Atletico Madrid. For a side that’s a rookie in the NPFL, they’ve done well so far. Their fluid play makes them a beauty to behold. They won again this past weekend, beating El Kanemi Warriors 3 – 1 in Agege. They have now only lost a game since the league started and are RIGHTFULLY top of the league table. Well done boys!
Plateau United and their terrible defending is flirting with relegation. They were beaten 2 – 0 by Awka United and the two goals they conceded showed a lack of concentration and inability to man-mark.
At least, Enyimba did Nigeria proud in their continental game with a comfortable win. Giwa FC also got their first win of the season. A 1 – 0 win over Sunshine Stars was enough.
Rotimi Daramola is a full time footballing polygamist that loves watching football and is in love with writing about the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and engage him on Facebook (Rotdavdara) on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn