Posted by: westafricanfootball | 03/06/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE IVORIAN LIGUE 1 (PART ONE)

* ASI Abengourou is currently number 4 in “Poule A”. ASI is from Abengourou, a city with about 120 000 inhabitants in the eastern parts of the Ivory Coast. ASI is definitely the most difficult team to find information about. At the time of writing, I can only document that three players have featured in the league so far; defender Lamoudja Traoré (born 20.12.1987), formerly of ASC Ouragahio, experienced striker Blaise Tanoh Koffi (born 03.04.1982) and the talented Sana Soro.

Tanoh Koffi played for South African side Lamontville Golden Arrows FC in 2009-2010. Soro is an interesting player, most likely born in 1991. In October / November 2011, Soro was part of the Ivory Coast B national football team for the 2011 UEMOA Tournament.

* AFAD Djékanou, the current leaders of “Poule B”, is having a wonderful season. Later this year, AFAD will be participating in the group stage of the 2012 CAF Confederations Cup. AFAD is playing their home matches in Abidjan.

There are so many interesting players in this youthful team. Clovis Tahourou (born 25.12.1989) is widely considered as the best goalkeeper in the league. Kouakou Mansou (born 10.05.1991) is a quality player at the right-back or the right-wing. The promising Henri Joël Kouadio Konan (born 20.10.1993) is often found on left-back or the left-wing. Bobley Anderson Allegne (born 03.03.1992) and Sanga Topio Coulibaly (born 17.08.1988) are two of the most creative midfielders in the league. Skillful attacker Yannick Zakri (born 26.03.1991) is one of the top strikers in the country.

Here is the list of scorers after 10 matches:

N’Dri Fabrice Kouadio 6, Yannick Zakri 4, Bobley Anderson Allegne 3, Kouakou Mansou 2, Henri Joël Kouadio Konan 1, Souleymane Ouattara 1, Jean Jorès Zougouri 1

* Africa Sports FC from Abidjan, historically one of the best teams in the country, is struggling, currently ranked as number 6 in “Poule A”. This is somewhat of a surprise to me as the team looks strong on paper. Christian Fabrice Okoua (born 06.11.1991) is the talented first-choice goalkeeper. He versatile Ben Adama Banh, left-back Konan Ruffin N’Gouan (born 15.05.1990), central defender Kouassi Nicaise N’Goran (born 08.02.1988) and central defender Soumaila Belem are all quality players at this level. Belem is currently part of the Burkina Faso national football team. Dalla Coulibaly (born 28.05.1987) is leading the midfield together with enterprising winger Serge Kouakou (born 02.02.1989). Up front, Nigerian striker Patrick Friday Eze (born 22.12.1992) and Tiémoko Konaté (born in 1990) are both considered as huge talents. Koffi Kan Tobie Olie (born 22.09.1984), formerly of Zamalek (Egypt) and AS Salé (Morocco) and Sekou Timité (born 11.05.1985), formerly of Olympique Beja (Tunisia) and FC Winterthur (Switzerland), are both experienced attackers. However, the attacking play of the team has not been working at all.

Here is the list of scorers after 10 matches:

Tiémoko Konaté 4, Leoh Digbeu 1, Koffi Kan Tobie Olie 1, Abdoul Sory Soumahoro 1

* Société Omnisports de l’Armée, mostly called SO Armée or SOA, is the top club in Yamoussoukro, the political capital of the Ivory Coast. The season has so far been a disappointment and the club is currently number 6 in “Poule B”. The backbone of the team consists of four experienced players; goalkeeper Guyan Kanté, defender Lamine Sogodogo (born 17.12.1987), attacking midfielder Antoine N’Gossan (born 30.11.1990) and goalpoacher Didier Brossou Kpéhi (born 29.05.1984), famous for scoring 17 league goals for Sabé Sports in 2009. Interestingly, all four players have previously played for ASEC Mimosas. A few years ago, N’Gossan was widely regarded as one of the biggest talents in the country. In 2008, he participated for the Ivory Coast U-23 national football team during the Olympics in China. From my point of view, central defender Kouadio Kevin Kouamé (born 31.12.1992), playmaker Simon Kangoh, right-winger Issoumaïla Lingane (born 15.03.1991) from Burkina Faso and young target man Jacob Philippe Okan Agoussi (born 23.12.1995) are the players to watch. Okan Agoussi was a trialist at Lillestrøm SK (Norway) earlier this year. Hermann Kouao (born 31.12.1989), who played for Stade d’Abidjan last season, is the current top scorer.

Here is the list of scorers after 10 matches:

Hermann Kouao 4, Jacob Philippe Okan Agoussi 3, Didier Brossou Kpéhi 2, Issoumaïla Lingane 1, Pierre Hervé M’Bena 1, Antoine N’Gossan 1

* ASEC Mimosas, world famous for developing talented players, looks surprisingly weak this season. The Abidjan-based powerhouse of Ivorian football is currently number 2 in “Poule B” but their performances have not been impressive. Tiasse Koné (born 11.11.1981) started the season as first choice goalkeeper but has lately lost his place to Sylvain Komenan (born 20.12.1982). Robert Sankara (born 18.02.1985), a full international player for Burkina Faso, and Junior Salomon (born 04.08.1986), a full international player for Benin, and Zahui Okou (born 11.06.1988), have played well in the heart of the defence. Look out for youngster Aboubacar Ouattara (born 14.04.1993), a promising centre-back.

One of the bright spots of the season has been defensive midfielder Michel Mvondo (born 09.11.1992) from Cameroon, formerly of Astres Douala. Together with Ghanaian Mark Sekyere (born 28.12.1989) and Hugues Evrad Zagbayou (born 14.05.1990), Mvondo forms a strong midfield. Ghanaian Abdul Ganiyu Iddi (born 23.10.1987) is currently out of form but he started well at the right side of midfield. Iddi is a former player of KV Mechelen (Belgium). The petit attacking midfielder Jean Michael Séry (born 19.07.1991) is arguably the most exciting prospect at the club.

Top striker Samba Diabaté (born 31.01.1986) scored regularly for Stella Club d’Adjamé but two league goals in 10 matches is not good enough. However, his latest performances indicate improvement. Expectations were also high for Ladji Tiezan Koné (born 15.05.1989), one of the top performers of Séwé Sport last season. Josué Alex Aguié (born 11.01.1987) was a big-name signing in April but the journeyman striker, formerly of RSC Anderlecht (Belgium) and Olympique Safi (Morocco), has not impressed at all.

Here is the list of scorers after 10 matches:

Samba Diabaté 2, Abdul Ganiyu Iddi 2, Yao Yves Ablakor 1, Koffi Davy Bouah 1, Jean-Jacques Bougouhi 1, Zahui Okou 1, Jean Michael Séry 1

* USC Bassam, based in the south eastern city of Grand-Bassam, is currently number 3 in “Poule A”. USCB has one of the hottest strikers in the country in Louis Philippe Anobile (born 16.11.1989). According to Fédération Ivoirienne de Football, Anobile has scored 10 goals in 10 matches this season. Anobile has developed a strong partnership with Ghanaian striker Edem Kouamé Akrofi (born 18.07.1990). Lanky midfielder Mohamed Ibrahim Diaby (born 02.04.1990) is another key player.

Defender Bienvenu Aipo, midfielder Landry Digbeu and playmaker Mory Samaké, all new signings from Club Omnisports Cyrille Domoraud, participated for the Ivory Coast B national football team during the 2011 UEMOA Tournament in October / November 2011. At the time, Aipo was 23 years old while Digbeu and Samaké were 21 years old.

* ES Bingerville, from Bingerville in south eastern Ivory Coast, is newly promoted and currently number 5 in “Poule B”. ESB recently made a wonderful signing in experienced goalkeeper Aristide Zogbo (born 30.12.1981), formerly of Maccabi Netanya FC (Israel). Zogbo has played several matches for the Ivory Coast national football team. Zogbo will compete against Jean Malick Hortalin Blé Zadi, who participated for the Ivory Coast B national football team during the 2011 UEMOA Tournament in October / November 2011.

From my point of view, Inza Diabaté (born 20.05.1992) is the player to watch. Diabaté, formerly of ASEC Mimosas, was the top scorer in the Ligue 2 last season. Other key players from last season are Nabi Koné (defender), Hadda Zongo (attacking midfielder) from Burkina Faso, Patrick Bini Kouman Koffi (defender), Fiacre Lopez Tohoua (defender), Yaya Diomandé (midfielder), Marius Okpekon Yacé (midfielder) and Jean Patrick Dogui (attacker). Tall striker Jean Iméré Yao Krizo (born 25.10.1988) has yet to blossom.

The picture is of goalkeeper Zogbo and was found on fifa.com.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 01/06/2012

GLO PREMIER LEAGUE 2011-2012 – THE TEAM OF THE SEASON

The Ghanaian GLO Premier League 2011-2011 was finalized on 27.05.2012. Based on matches I’ve seen, reports I’ve read and hearsay from contacts, I have picked my “Team of the season”.

GOALKEEPER

ABDOULAYE SOULAMA

Club: Asante Kotoko FC

DOB: 29.11.1974

* Last season, veteran goalkeeper Soulama played only three matches for Asante Kotoko FC. This season, Soulama, who will turn 38 later this year, has been first choice, playing 24 matches. MTN Football recently wrote that Soulama conceded 12 goals in 26 matches. In any case, Soulama deserves a lot of credit for Kotoko’s defensive record, the second best in the league. Soulama, who recently was yet again picked for the Stallions, the Burkina Faso national football team, is a very confident goalkeeper with plenty of experience. I’m impressed with Soulama’s ability to pick out crosses and despite his relatively high age, he is an excellent shot stopper. Soulama played professionally for Denizlispor (Turkey) during the seasons 2000-2001, 2001-2002 and 2002-2003.

LEFT-BACK

RICHARD KISSI BOATENG

Club: Berekum Chelsea FC

DOB: 25.11.1988

* After an unsuccessful stint in Libya for Al-Ittihad Club Tripoli, Boateng returned to Ghana and Berekum Chelsea FC. From Week 7, Boateng has been first choice at left-back and his performances have been consistent and highly impressive. Boateng is a disciplined player with bravery and aggression. He loves to join the attack on overlapping runs. Boateng, who scored one league goal during the season, broke through at Liberty Professionals FC.

CENTRAL DEFENDER

GODWIN OSEI BONSU

Club: Hearts of Oak SC

DOB: 03.03.1989

* Strong as a bull, tough in the tackles and almost impossible to beat in the air. Godwin Osei Bonsu, the captain of Hearts of Oak SC, has arguably been the top performer at the Phobians. Bonsu scored two league goals during the season.

CENTRAL DEFENDER

HENRY OHENE BRENYA

Club: Asante Kotoko FC

DOB: 04.05.1985

* I guess most experts would rate Mohammed Awal as a better player than Henry Ohene Brenya, his partner in the central defence of Asante Kotoko FC. That could very well be, but from my point of view, Brenya has been somewhat more consistent. I love the quiet, effective performances of the Kokoto-captain. Brenya rarerly causes any headlines but he is always playing with the heart on his sleeve.

Brenya was a key player for Berekum Arsenal FC before joining Kotoko before the GLO Premier League 2010-2011. Brenya did not score any goals during the current season but as far as I know, he was ever present in the heart of the defence for the league champions.

RIGHT-BACK

GODFRED SAKA

Club: Aduana Stars FC

DOB: 02.11.1988

* It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the impressive right-back Godfred Saka of Aduana Stars FC. Saka, an expert from set pieces, rather sensationally became top scorer of the team with six league goals. Saka is known for his cultured right-foot, his dangerous free-kicks and crosses and his tireless work up and down the right side. Saka is one of these fabulous West African full-backs with heavy emphasis on attack. Saka has great stamina combined with power and intelligence.

LEFT-WINGER

RICHARD MPONG

Club: Medeama SC

DOB: 04.07.1990

* On 29.02.2012, petit winger Richard Mpong made a goalscoring debut for the Black Stars, the Ghana national football team, in a friendly match against Chile. Mpong, a former player of Gamba All Blacks FC and Kessben FC, is a very exciting player to watch, known for his dribbling skills, pace and good passing ability. Mpong is not a typical goalscorer (he scored only once during the season) but his crosses, especially towards pointmen Louis Agyemang and Hans Kwofie, are valuable to the attacking play of Medeama SC. Medeama SC has been a disappointment this season but Mpong has been wonderful in several matches. Mpong can play both at left-wing and right-wing.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDER

MICHAEL AKUFFO

Club: Asante Kotoko FC

DOB: 18.12.1985

* From my point of view, Akuffo is one of the easiest picks. The box-to-box midfielder has been simply brilliant in the center of the park. Akuffo is a dynamic, hard-working player with both defensive and attacking qualities. His stamina, tackles and passes are top-shelf. Akuffo is a product of the Feyenoord Academy and has also played for ASEC Mimosas in the Ivory Coast. In 2009 and 2010, Akuffo played for Finnish second level side FC PoPa.

Akuffo has almost been ever present this season and has scored four league goals.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDER

ABUBAKAR MORO

Club: Hearts of Oak SC

DOB: 07.08.1991

* Moro, a midfield workhorse, has developed into a key player for Hearts of Oak SC. Moro has primarily defensive responsibilities and his hard work is fundamental for the balance of the team. Moro is reportedly on the radar of several clubs in Ghana, including Medeama SC and Berekum Chelsea FC. If Moro is able to develop his creativity and passing ability, he will become a quality player. As far as I know, Moro has only missed one match all season. He has not scored any goals.

RIGHT-WINGER

ASIEDU ATTOBRAH

Club: New Edubiase United FC

DOB: 15.03.1995

* Hard-tackling midfielder Attobrah has been one of the revelations of the season. Most sources will say that Attobrah is only 17 years old and despite his young age, he has actually been captaining Edubiase during the season. Attobrah has been described as a player who has “a gift for recycling possession and dictating the pace undimmed”. Personally, I have always liked his tireless work and aggressiveness. Attobrah is also a player with attacking qualities, having scored three league goals during the season. According to some rumors, Attobrah will shortly join Asante Kotoko FC. Attobrah, arguably one of the most interesting prospects in the league, has been part of the Ghana U-17 and the Ghana U-20 national football team. Attobrah can play both as a central midfielder and a right-winger. The picture is of Attobrah and was found on Ghanasoccernet.

STRIKER

EMMANUEL BAFFOUR

Club: New Edubiase United FC

DOB: 02.04.1989

* Baffour is a rather obvious choice for the team of the season, especially since he was named as “Premiership Player of the Year” by the Sports Writers Association of Ghana. Baffour scored an incredible tally of 21 goals in about 25 matches for the rather modest side New Edubiase United FC, making him top scorer in the GLO Premier League 2011-2012. It’s been a fairytale season for the sharp-shooting striker, known for being an all-round player with no particular weaknesses. Baffour is strong, fast and skillful, with decent dribbling abilities. Baffour made his debut for the Black Stars, the Ghana national football team, during the season. Former clubs include Liberty Professionals FC and Tema Youth FC. Baffour will most likely play in a bigger league next season. According to unconfirmed sources, New Edubiase United FC will sell their star player for USD 1 000 000.

STRIKER

YAKUBU MOHAMMED

Club: AshantiGold SC

DOB: 26.07.1990

* Burly striker Mohammed, known for his physical strength and his direct style of play, is one of my favourite players in the GLO Premier League. This is the kind of player who is able to form an attack practically on his own. Mohammed had a difficult start to the season, scoring only once in his 10 first matches. However, from Week 12 to Week 30, Mohammed scored 15 goals, making his total record for the season an impressive 16 goals. I think Mohammed deserves a chance in a bigger league.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 27/05/2012

THE NIGERIA U-20 NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM

The Nigeria U-20 national football team will most likely be eliminated from the Cape Town U-20 International friendly tournament after losing to both Ghana U-20 and Argentina U-20. Based on their squad for the tournament, I am not very surprised. To be honest, this is the weakest Flying Eagles squad I have ever seen. A friend, who is a scout, is witnessing the tournament and described the Nigerian team as “horrible”. He suggested that no player from worth following after the tournament. These are perhaps harsh words but personally, I cannot understand how the Nigeria Football Federation can put together a squad consisting of fringe players and reserve players from Nigerian Premier League clubs, unknown players from second and third level clubs and even unattached players.

I guess about 1/3 of all players in the Nigeria Premier League is (supposedly) under 20 years old and if these 25 players are the best of the best, I am worried about the future of Nigerian football.

To be fair, I guess some of the best clubs in Nigeria could have denied their best U-20 players to participate in the tournament. The teams in Nigeria are playing a lot of matches in May and many coaches will probably dislike to lose key players to a friendly tournament.

According to the official homepage of the tournament, http://www.8nationschallenge.com/, this is the official squad:

OKANI  / CHUKWUNENYE SAMUEL

OYEDIRAN / LEKAN YUSUF

INNOCENT / SIMON

PATRICK/ KINGSLEY ONYEBUCHI

GERO / SALIU ABDULLAHI

ORKUMA / MOSES

ANAEZEMBA / NZUBE PIUS

SHEHU / ABDULLAHI

OKORIE / IKECHUKWU

IZUEGBU / ABONIMA BONIFACE

OMEROU / LUCKY

UMAR / AMINU

FREDRICK / OBOMATE ANABRABA

OLA / TAIYE

CHRISTIAN / JOSIAH OBINNA

AGBO / UCHE HENRY

SAIDU / ABDULLAHI MOHAMMED

IDRIS / HABU

AMAEFULE / CHIZOBA JOHNBUSCO

ALIMI / SIKIRU ADEWALE

EZENWAKA / NNADOZIE UGONNA

WILLIAMS / JACOB ABOBO

BRAYE / BROWN

ALUKO / TOLULOPE SAMUEL

BINUYO / LOOKMAN A. KADIRI

In this post, I will write a short profile on all players in the squad.

SAMUEL OKANI

Club: Jigawa Golden Stars FC or Enyimba FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Goalkeeper

* Okani is a petit goalkeeper who is totally unknown to me. His full name is either “Chukwunonye Samuel Okani” or “Chukwunenye Samuel Okani”. To be honest, I am a bit confused by this player. In April 2012, Okani was playing for Jigawa Golden Stars FC according to MTN Football, Complete Sports Nigeria, and most other sources. However, MTN Football recently wrote that Okani is playing for Enyimba FC. In any case, I have never heard of this player and if he is playing for Enyimba FC, he is most likely miles away from the first team. Okani was team captain when Nigeria U-20 lost 2-3 against Ghana U-20 on 25.05.2012. Apparently, Okani had a good game. According to some sources, Okani was one of the smallest players on the field.

LEKAN OYEDIRAN

Club: Ajiroba-Ooni FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Goalkeeper

* Oyediran, sometimes referred to as “Yusuf Oyediran”, is a goalkeeper playing at second level side Ajiroba-Ooni FC, based in Ilé-Ifè in south-western Nigeria.

SIMON INNOCENT

Club: Niger Tornadoes FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Attacker / Defender

* Innocent has played regularly for Niger Tornadoes FC this season but has not caught any headlines and he has yet to score his first top level goal. Confusingly, Innocent is referred to as a defender by some sources but as an attacker by most sources.

PATRICK KINGSLEY

Club: Sharks FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Right-back / Central midfielder

* Kingsley, sometimes referred to as “Patrick Kingsley Onyebuchi”, has been a fringe player at Sharks FC for the last couple of seasons. According to 2muchsports, Kingsley is born 13.04.1987. It is difficult to say whether this is the correct date of birth.

ALHAJI GERO

Club: Rangers International FC

DOB: 10.10.1993

Position: Striker

* Gero is a big and strong centre-forward. Alhaji played 14 matches without scoring a goal for Kaduna United FC before he joined Rangers during the mid-season transfer window. Gero has scored two league goals since joining the current leaders of the Nigeria Premier League. I think it is fair to say that Gero is one of the most interesting players in the Nigerian squad. My friend, who watched Gero when against both Ghana U-20 and Argentina U-20, described him as a powerful but rather clumsy player.

MOSES ORKUMA

Club: Lobi Stars FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Central midfielder

* I have to admit that I was surprised to find Orkuma’s name in the squad list. In March 2011, Orkuma gave an interview to Daily Trust, explaining that he was born on 19.07.1990:

http://sundaytrust.com.ng/?option=com_content&view=article&id=6426&catid=7&Itemid=113

However, according to 2muchsports, Orkuma is born 19.06.1993. In any case, Orkuma is a good player, described as a “lion-hearted playmaker”. It is difficult to define which of the two that is the correct date of birth. Orkuma is rather petit, but he uses his strength well, working hard and never letting his opponent rest. Orkuma has scored two league goals so far this season.

NZUBE ANAEZEMBA

Club: Enyimba FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Left-winger

* Last season, Anaezemba won promotion with Rising Stars FC before joining Enyimba FC before the Nigeria Premier League 2012. Anaezemba has scored two league goals so far this season and has made several impressive performances. The tricky winger can also play as a support striker. I would rate Anaezemba as one of the most interesting players in the squad.

ABDULLAHI SHEHU

Club: Kano Pillars FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Central midfielder

* Most experts thought Shehu would be a key player during the tournament. Pillars signed Shehu from Plateau United FC before the current season and the youngster has been largely impressive for the title-chasers from Kano. Shehu, an athletic and elegant player, has yet to score a goal for his new club, but scored twice for Plateau United FC during the Nigeria Premier League 2010-2011.

IKECHUKWU OKORIE

Club: Kaduna United FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Central defender / Defensive midfielder

* Okorie is yet another unknown player to me. He scored two penalty goals against Kwara United FC on 13.05.2012 and has featured regularly for Kaduna United FC this season. A player called “Ikechukwu Okorie” was part of the Nigeria U-23 national football team in 2007, most likely a different player.

ABONIMA IZUEGBU

Club: Sharks FC

DOB: 27.11.1994

Position: Central defender / Defensive midfielder

* Izuegbu is a strong and versatile player. Izuegbu, often referred to as Abonima Arinze Izuegbu, has been impressive for second level side 36 Lions FC. Apparently, Izuegbu has recently joined Sharks FC.

LUCKY OMEROU

Club: Bayelsa United FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Winger / Attacking midfielder

* Promising player at second level side Bayelsa United FC where he has scored two goals this season.

AMINU UMAR

Club: Wikki Tourists FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Striker / Winger

* Umar has scored one league goal for Wikki Tourists FC this season, as far as I know his first season at top level. Umar is a promising striker. The picture is of Umar and was found on MTN Football.

FREDRICK OBOMATE

Club: Sharks FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Defender / Midfielder

* Obomate is an unknown player to me. He is most likely playing for the reserves of Sharks FC in Port Harcourt.

TAIYE OLA  

Club: Enyimba FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Midfielder

* Ola is a fringe player at Enyimba FC, not playing regularly for the first team. However, I know that Ola is highly regarded at the club and he is probably a player to look out for in the future. According to 2muchsports, Ola is born 14.04.1995.

CHRISTIAN JOSIAH

Club: C.O.D United FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Striker

* Somewhat of a mystery man to me. City of David United FC, mostly referred to as C.O.D United FC, has a great homepage and I am not able to find any player called “Christian Josiah” in their list of players or in their line-up from the first seven matches of the season. I am not able to find a player called “Christian Josiah” in their list of scorers from the next seven matches either. However, according to unconfirmed sources, a “Christian Josiah” has scored a couple of goals for C.O.D United FC during the FA Cup earlier this season.

UCHE AGBO

Club: Enyimba FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Attacking midfielder

* Enyimba FC signed Agbo from JUTH FC before the current season. According to 2muchsports, Agbo is born in 1991, making him too old for the Nigeria U-20 national football team. According to http://foetbal247.wordpress.com/category/fresh-blood/, Agbo is born 30.01.1991. In any case, Agbo is an elegant midfielder who has done well for Enyimba FC. He has scored one goal so far this season. Agbo is a former player of FC Taraba.

IDRIS HABU

Club: Unknown

DOB: Unknown

Position: Unknown

* Habu scored one league goal for Gombe United FC during the Nigeria Premier League 2010-2011. I have no record of the player from the current season. According to 2muchsports, Habu is born 12.10.1993.

CHIZOBA AMAEFULE

Club: Remo FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Defender

* Amaefule was a fringe player at Sharks FC during the Nigeria Premier League 2010-2011. According to 2muchsports, he is born 28.10.1993. Amaefule is currently playing for second level side Remo FC, based in Sagamu in southwestern Nigeria.

ABDULLAHI SAIDU

Club: Unknown

DOB: Unknown

Position: Midfielder

* Completely unknown player to me.

SIKIRU ALIMI

Club: Union Bank FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Striker

* Sikiru, a completely unknown player to me, is apparently playing at third level of Nigerian football.

UGONNA EZENWAKA

Club: Ocean Boys FC

DOB: 18.01.1992

Position: Midfielder

* Ezenwaka, the midfield general of struggling Ocean Boys FC, is probably one of the best players in the squad. I have previously presented Ezenwaka in my post from 17.05.2012:

http://westafricanfootball.com/2012/05/17/ugonna-ezenwaka/

Ezenwaka has already turned 20 so I was a bit surprised to find him in a Nigeria U-20 squad.

JACOB ABOBO WILLIAMS

Club: Unknown

DOB: Unknown

Position: Goalkeeper

* Williams is one of the backup goalkeepers in the squad. He is completely unknown to me and apparently unattached at the time of writing.

BROWN BRAYE

Club: Nembe City FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Defender

* Braye, sometimes referred to as “Brown Braye Okpus”, is apparently playing for Nembe City FC at second level of Nigerian football.

TOLU ALUKO

Club: FRSC Strikers FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Central defender / Left-back

* Aluko is playing at second level of Nigerian football for FRSC Strikers FC. Apparently, he had a terrible game at left-back when Nigeria U-20 lost 2-3 against Ghana U-20 on 25.05.2012. His full name is “Tolulope Samuel Aluko”.

BINAYO LUKMAN

Club: Union Bank FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Midfielder

* Lukman, a completely unknown player to me, is apparently playing at third level of Nigerian football.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 26/05/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2012

* Musa Najare (born 16.01.1992) made several impressive performances for Akwa United FC earlier this season. The talented youngster, mostly used as a left-winger or a striker, has recently joined Warri Wolves FC. Najare, formerly of Rangers International FC, scored his first goal for Wolves on 20.05.2012.

* On 20.05.2012, a player called “Ada Adama” scored for Akwa United FC against Sharks FC. I believe this is Adama Ada Odey (born 23.01.1986), formerly of Heartland FC. Odey is a utility player, often found on the left side of the attack. He has been described as a player with an impressive work rate on the flanks.

* Powerful striker Ismaila Gata recently joined Shooting Stars FC. Gata made his top level debut in November 2010 and has already played for four top level clubs: Bukola Babes FC, Kwara United FC, Enyimba FC and Shooting Stars FC. His goalscoring record shows three goals – one for Bukola Babes FC and two for Kwara United FC, all scored during the Nigeria Premier League 2010-2011.

* In December 2011, Nigerian media reported that attacking midfielder Emmanuel Bivan had left Kaduna United FC and joined second level side FC Taraba. Bivan is now back at Kaduna United FC.

* Has Cameroonian striker Mark Kipeh Pangwoh joined Kwara United FC? Pangwoh, formerly of Sable FC, was presented in my post from 29.03.2011:

http://westafricanfootball.com/2011/03/29/mark-kipeh-pangwoh/

* Lazarus Chukwu has left Lobi Stars FC and teamed up with his former club Warri Wolves FC. Chukwu is a hard-working midfielder with a healthy goalscoring record.

* Rangers International FC is the current leaders of the Nigeria Premier League and much has been written about their strong attack, consisting of Chikeluba Francis Ofoedu, top scorer in the league with 10 goals, the hard working Efe Yarhere (born 27.04.1988) who has scored six goals and Ifeanyi Ede (born 05.12.1990), who has scored three goals since joining Rangers in April from Enyimba FC. However, I believe goalkeeper Godwin Ayalogu and central defenders James Okwuosa (born 14.09.1990) and Cyril Oriaku deserves attention as well. All three players has been consistent performers this season. In my opinion, Okwuosa is ready for bigger leagues.

* Rising Stars FC is rock bottom in the Nigeria Premier League but won’t give up without a fight. The Akure-based side recently signed experienced striker Clement Bisong, formerly of Orlando Pirates FC and Dynamos FC from South Africa. Bisong was part of the Nigeria U-23 national football team in 2007.

* Bulldozing striker Dele Olorundare of Sunshine Stars FC is one of the hottest players in the Nigeria Premier League at the time of writing. Olorundare, formerly of FC Abuja and Nasarawa United FC, has scored seven goals so far this season.

* Here is an unofficial list of scorers so far in the Nigeria Premier League 2012. Please note that there are some confusion regarding several goals scored and other sources will probably report different figures.

10 goals

Chikeluba Francis Ofoedu – Rangers International FC

9 goals 

Mustapha Babadidi – Gombe United FC

Mohammed Gambo – Kano Pillars FC

8 goals

Rabiu Ali – Kano Pillars FC

Sibi Gwar – Niger Tornadoes FC

Bala Mohammed – Jigawa Golden Stars FC

Sani Sanusi – Gombe United FC

7 goals

Andrew Abalogu – ABS FC

Abdulrahman Bashir – ABS FC

Bright Ejike – Sharks FC

Dele Olorundare – Sunshine Stars FC

6 goals

Segun Alebiosu – Kwara United FC

Jafar Buhari – Kaduna United FC

Azuka Ebinum – Warri Wolves FC (5 goals scored for Niger Tornadoes FC)

Josiah Maduabuchi – Enyimba FC

Godfrey Oboabona – Sunshine Stars FC

Efe Yarhere – Rangers International FC

The picture is of Cyril Oriaku of Rangers International FC and Lazarus Chukwu of Warri Wolves FC and was found on MTN Football.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 22/05/2012

SEGUN ALEBIOSU

Youngster Segun Alebiosu of Kwara United FC has been one of the revelations of the Nigeria Premier League 2012. At the time of writing, Alebiosu has scored six league goals, which is quite impressive for a rookie at top level at Nigerian football. Alebiosu is top scorer at Kwara United FC with two goals more than experienced striker Kabiru Sanusi.

In February 2012, Segun Atere, team captain of Kwara United FC, tipped Alebiosu as a player who could excel in the Nigeria Premier League. Alebiosu was described as a “hardworking youngster who was discovered last season in Ilorin”. Atere added that Alebiosu “has all it takes to be a great player”.

In March 2012, respectable webpage Completesportsnigeria described Alebiosu as a player who had “impressed massively” during the season.

In April 2012, MTN Football named Alebiosu as one of 10 players from the Nigeria Premier League that was “good enough to take their trade to Europe”. Alebiosu was described as a strong player who plays a direct game. Later the same month, Kwara United manager Tunde Sanni described Alebiosu as “the revelation of the season”.

Alebiosu has been training with the Nigeria U-17 national football team during the season. In May 2012, Alebiosu was excluded from the team as the Nigeria Football Federation decided that all players from the Nigeria Premier League were ruled out. Apparently, this decision was taken as a method to prevent age cheating. It should be pointed out that there are no evidence indicating that Alebiosu is more than 17 years old.

From my point of view, Alebiosu is obviously a player to watch. It is still too early to predict a bright future in Nigerian football for Alebiosu, but his career has gotten a flying start.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 20/05/2012

MORYKÉ FOFANA

The Abidjan-based side Ecole de Football Yéo Martial, mostly referred to as EFYM,  has been one of the surprise packages in the Ivorian Ligue 1 2012. The newly promoted side is currently number 2 in the “Poule A” of the Ivorian championship, which few would have guessed before the season. The big star of EFYM is argubaly striker Moryké Fofana. Fofana is a rather unknown player who has caught headlines lately after some brilliant performances. Ivorian media has described Fofana as the most prominent player so far this season and according to unconfirmed sources, both ASEC Mimosas and Africa Sports are hoping to get his signature.

It is not easy to find information about Fofana. My first record of the player is from the Ivorian Ligue 1 2009. Fofana, who was described as a young, talented player at the time, was part of the EFYM-team that was relegated. As far as I know, Fofana did not score any goals. Interestingly, Fofana was playing alongside Tiémoko Konaté, currently the most exciting prospect at Africa Sports.

As far as I know, Fofana played for EFYM at second level of Ivorian football in 2010 and 2011. I believe he was the top scorer at EFYM in 2011.

His return to the top flight has been sensational and according to Fédération Ivoirienne de Football, Fofana has scored seven league goals so far this season, making him one of the top scorers in the country.

Fofana is born 23.11.1991 and is therefore 20 years old at the time of writing. He has been described as a skilful player with a great physical presence, making him difficult to beat in duels. In fact, Fofana’s style of play has been compared to Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o.

Fofana’s name is sometimes written “Moriké Fofana”.

I look forward to follow Fofana’s development in coming years. I expect him to leave EFYM during the season or after the season and hopefully his talent will be nurtured further at his next club, most likely one of the powerhouses of Ivorian football.

The picture is of players from EFYM and was found on news24.ci.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 19/05/2012

THE CAMEROON U-20 NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM

From 24.05.2012 to 03.06.2012, the Cameroon U-20 national football team will participate in the Cape Town U-20 International friendly tournament. Last week, the Fédération Camerounaise de Football published a list of 28 players who are considered for the tournament. 18 of the players are playing in the MTN Elite One 2012. In this post, I will give a short presentation of these players.

SERGES ALAIN ANE

Club: Union Douala

DOB: 10.09.1994

Position: Midfielder

* Ane was signed from the Friendship Academy in Douala before the MTN Elite One 2012. He is already an established member of the first team at Union Douala. The lanky midfielder was part of the Cameroon U-17 national football team in 2011.

YAZID ATOUBA EMANE

Club: Canon Yaoundé

DOB: 02.01.1993

Position: Attacking midfielder / Left-winger

* Atouba Emane is arguably the star of the squad. The youngster is key player at Canon Yaoundé and can be described as a hard-working and creative midfielder. He has scored twice so far this season. Atouba Emane has experience from the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The following clip shows some of his qualities: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlM6N9-QDTI

JEAN LANDRY BASSILEKIN

Club: Renaissance FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Striker

* Bassilekin has been one of the revelations of the MTN Elite One 2012, having scored six league goals so far this season. However, I must admit that I was surprised to see his name in the squad as the following clip from Youtube suggests that Bassilekin is 26 years old: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6aXEjXi5T4

Obviously, the clip could be wrong and personally, I think it is strange that I cannot find any information about a player who is reportedly 26 years old. It is just as likely that he is a talented youngster and in any case, Bassilekin is obviously a quality striker.

CHARLES ETOUNDI ELOUNDOU

Club: Unisport FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Attacking midfielder / Striker

* Unisport FC signed the petit Eloundou from AS Fortune, based in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé, before the MTN Elite One 2012. During 2010 and 2011, Eloundou was part of the Cameroon U-17 national football team. He has scored one league goal so far this season.

The picture is of Eloundou and is taken from http://www.sourcesducameroun.com.

HASCHOU KERRIDO

Club: Unisport FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Goalkeeper

* When Collins Maifanya joined Panthere Sportive after the MTN Elite One 2010-2011, Kerrido became first choice goalkeeper at Unisport FC. Kerrido has never looked back and some experts have likened him to legendary goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

THOMAS JUNIOR LIBIIH

Club: Renaissance FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Defender / Midfielder

* Libiih, most likely born in 1994, joined Renaissance FC from the All Sport Academy in Yaoundé. The current season is Libiih’s second at top level of Cameroonian football. Libiih has played regularly for the Cameroon U-17 national football team in 2010 and 2011.

CARLAIN MANGA MBAH

Club: Cotonsport FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Striker

* To be honest, Manga Mbah is a completely unknown player to me. Manga Mbah was officially registered in the Cotonsport-squad for the CAF Champions League, suggestion he is a promising player.

JUNIOR ROSTAND MBAÏ

Club: Union Douala

DOB: 01.07.1995

Position: Striker

* Mbaï is still a fringe player at Union Douala but he is highly regarded and definitely one for the future. Mbaï is a natural goalscorer known for clinical finishes. He is a product of the Eugène Ekéké Academy. Mbaï was part of the Cameroon U-17 national football team in 2011.

EMMANUEL MBONGO EWANGUE

Club: Cotonsport FC

DOB: 13.03.1993

Position: Striker / Winger

* Mbongo Ewangue, a speedy and athletic attacker, is one of the star players in the preliminary squad. He plays regularly for Cotonsport FC, the top club in Cameroon, and has already featured for the Cameroon B national football team. Mbongo Ewangue starred for the Cameroon U-20 national football team during the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

ABDOUL SAMAD MOHAMADOU

Club: Renaissance FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Striker

* To be honest, I did not know that Mohamadou had joined Renaissance FC. Mohamadou is a product of Fundesport from Douala, also known as the Samuel Eto’o football academy, and was part of the Cameroon U-17 national football team in 2011. As far as I know, Mohamadou is highly regarded in Cameroonian football.

ROSTAND MOUKAP

Club: Unisport FC

DOB: 18.05.1993

Position: Central defender

* Moukap has been a fringe player at Unisport FC this season, mostly because of competition from great centre-backs such as Marcellin Gaha Djiadeu, Charles Lobe Lembe and Thierry Tonye Biheng.

MFOMBAM MOUNCHILI

Club: Union Douala

DOB: Unknown

Position: Goalkeeper

* Mfombam Mounchili is the new first choice goalkeeper at Union Douala, signed from APEJES FC de Mfou before the current season. Mounchili was training with the Cameroon U-23 national football team last year.

LOUIS WILLY NDONGO

Club: Sable FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Midfielder

* Ndongo is a rather unknown midfielder at Sable FC. He has featured regularly this season.

NKOT NYAMAT

Club: Astres Douala

DOB: Unknown

Position: Left-back

* Talented left-back Nyamat has been able to force his way into the first team of Astres Douala in his first ever season at top level of Cameroonian football.

JACQUES ONANA NDZOMO

Club: Canon Yaoundé

DOB: Unknown

Position: Central defender / Right-back

* Onana Ndzomo has been a revelation for Canon Yaoundé this season and is already an established member of the first team.

JOËL OWONO MBASSEGUE

Club: Renaissance FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Right-back

* Owono Mbassegue is a former player of AS Fortune, based in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé. He has also been an important player at the Cameroon U-17 national football teams for the last couple of years.

FRANTZ PANGOP

Club: Sable FC

DOB: Unknown

Position: Striker

* Frantz Pangop, a rather unknown striker, has scored one league goal for Sable FC this season.

MOUSSA SOULEYMANOU

Club: Cotonsport FC

DOB: 12.10.1994

Position: Left-back / Left-winger

* Moussa Souleymanou is a very quick, tricky player who loves to challenge defenders with his speed and dribbles. Souleymanou was part of the Cameroon U-17 national football team in 2010 and is widely considered to be one of the biggest talents at Cotonsport FC. According to trustworthy sources, several top clubs are already following the left-sided player. Souleymanou is a rather small player, apparently about 165 centimeters.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 17/05/2012

UGONNA EZENWAKA

Ocean Boys FC is currently fighting hard to avoid relegation from the Nigeria Premier League 2012. It has been a poor season for the club, based in the city of Brass in Southern Nigeria, but midfielder Ugonna Ezenwaka has been able to shine in his first ever season at top level. At the time of writing, Ezenwaka is arguably one of the most exciting prospects in the league.

Apparently, Ezenwaka started his career at amateur clubs Fame FC and Anambra United FC. Ezenwaka starred for 36 Lion FC during the season 2010-2011. 36 Lion FC, currently playing at second level of Nigerian football, is based in Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria. In October and November 2011, Ezenwaka was part of the Nigeria U-23 national football team.

Ezenwaka joined Ocean Boys FC, the 2006 league champions, before the Nigeria Premier League 2012. Ezenwaka made an immediate impact and he is currently an important member of the team, already having two league goals to his name.

In April 2012, Ezenwaka was named in the squad of the Nigeria U-20 national football team.

Earlier this month, Ezenwaka scored a free-kick goal when Nigeria U-20 played a 1-1 draw against the Nigeria B national football team in a friendly match. On 16.05.2012, Ezenwaka scored yet again from a free-kick when Nigeria U-20 played a 1-1 draw against Lobi Stars FC in another friendly match. Ezenwaka will most likely star for Nigeria U-20 during a friendly tournament in Cape Town, South Africa, later this month.

According to www.36lionfc.com, Ezenwaka is born 18.01.1992. In other words, Ezenwaka has already turned 20 and 2012 is most likely the last year he is qualified to play for Nigeria U-20. According to the same source, Ezenwaka is 178 centimeters and 78 kilos. At the webpage, he is described as a “powerful and strong midfielder” who us “very aggressive on the field” and plays “with great effectiveness”.

Ezenwaka has also been described as a hard-working player who can play both as a defensive midfielder or an attacking midfielder. I believe Ezenwaka is more of a fighter and a “workhorse” than a “playmaker” kind of player. He is obviously an expert from set-pieces, apparently using his right-foot. At the time of writing, Ezenwaka is rather unknown outside of Nigeria but I expect that to change sooner rather than later. His versatility and his eye for a goal should make him attractive for foreign scouts.

Ezenwaka has a Facebook-profile: http://www.facebook.com/ugonna.ezenwaka.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 14/05/2012

ASANTE KOTOKO FC 4-3 BECHEM UNITED FC

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching the game between champions Asante Kotoko FC and struggling Bechem United FC. It was actually one of the best games I have ever seen from the GLO Premier League. Surprisingly, Bechem United FC took the lead through a wonderful shot from Reginald Asante after poor defending by the Kotoko-defenders. Kotoko reduced the score when Augustine Okrah crossed from the left and found Ahmed Touré in front of goal. The Ivorian striker scored an easy tap-in goal. A few minutes later, the enterprising Augustine Okrah scored one of the best goals I have seen all season. Okrah won the ball about 30 meters from the goal and scored through a thunderbolt shot that went straight into the net, hitting the cross-bar first. Quite possibly the goal of the season. In the second half, Ahmed Touré scored his second of the evening when he followed a long goal kick from goalkeeper Isaac Amoako and lobbed over the out-rushing goalkeeper Maxwell Fiifi Eshun. A wonderful finish from Touré. Bechem United FC fought their way into the match, first through a strong header from Reginald Asante after a clinical cross from the impressive left-back Rashid Abdul. Asante became a hat-trick hero when he scored 3-3 through a penalty goal. Daniel Nii Adjei showed yet again what an important player he is, scoring the matchwinning goal about 15 minutes from full time.

Asante Kotoko FC played with their backup goalkeeper Isaac Amoako (born 20.08.1983). Amoako conceded three goals but should not be blamed for any of them. Amoako seemed confident and made a few great saves, showing that it is way too early to write him off. I find it rather obvious that Amoako would be first choice goalkeeper at most top level teams in Ghana.

The impressive Yaw Frimpong (born 04.12.1986) played at right-back while Gideon Baah (born 01.10.1991) played at left-back. Both players are modern-style full-backs with attacking qualities and an impressive work rate. Baah has made an impressive return to the first team after struggling with injury for about a year. The central defensive pair of Mohammed Awal (born 01.05.1988) and captain Henry Ohene Brenya (born 04.05.1985) is widely considered as the best in the league, but I was not too impressed this afternoon. Both players looked somewhat shaky and were not up to their regular standards.

Kotoko played a 4-5-1 formation with Augustine Okrah (born 18.09.1993) attacking from the left-wing and Richard Yeboah (born 26.09.1984) attacking from the left. Afranie Yeboah (born 05.05.1988) played as a holding midfielder, allowing Daniel Nii Adjei (born 29.09.1988) and Michael Anaba (born 05.12.1988) to roam free. Okrah has had a difficult season after joining Kotoko from the Red Bull Academy, playing only a handful of matches. Yesterday, Okrah showed what an amazing talent he is. Okrah is a petit, quick player, at his best in a free role behind the strikers or as a classic winger without too many defensive obligations. Okrah has a brilliant left-foot, is a great dribbler and his first half was simply top class, having one assist and scoring a wonder goal. Here is a clip showing a few glimpses of Okrah:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhxlazG5Bqk

Okrah was replaced with David Ofei (born 07.06.1989) during the second half. Ofei fought hard on the left-wing.

Richard Yeboah had a rather quiet game at the right-wing, struggling with Rashid Abdul at the left-back of Bechem United FC. Yeboah, usually a pacy, hard-working winger, was replaced with Frank Boateng (born 17.08.1984). Boateng, the experienced central midfielder, was able to take control over the midfield with his strong passing and great overview.

I am pretty sure that Afranie Yeboah is the kind of player that would do very well in my local league, the Norwegian. Yeboah is disciplined, works hard, defends well and always seems to choose security over entertainment. Yeboah is the kind of player every team needs, although he rarely catches any headlines. Daniel Nii Adjei is a brilliant midfielder who controls the ball like few other players in Ghana. Adjei sometimes reminds me of Frank Lampard of Chelsea FC. Both players also share the ability to be at the right place at the right time, scoring a considerable amount of goals. Adjei scored his fifth league goal of the season. Michael Anaba should be thrilled after a wonderful first season at Kotoko. I have seen Anaba better, but he is a very skillful and intelligent player.

Ahmed Touré (born 17.07.1987), the Ivorian star player, played as a lone strike and scored his seventh and eighth goal of the season. Touré worked hard and had tough defenders guarding him, but thanks to his pace and strength, he was able to score two great goals. Touré looked sharp all afternoon and I hope he will soon win the professional contract he desperately wants and definitely deserves. Iddrisu Nafiu (born 12.06.1986), the strong centre forward, played a few minutes as a substitute but I was not able to see who he replaced.

I feel sorry for the hard-fighting Bechem United FC. The club played with Maxwell Fiifi Eshun in goal. Eshun is usually backup goalkeeper for Ransford Kudjoe but showed that he is an agile goalkeeper despite conceding four goals.

Their left-back of Bechem United FC was Rashid Abdul while Godfred Ofosu (born 21.01.1989) played at the right side of the defense. Abdul is one of my favourite left-backs in the GLO Premier League. Abdul is a tall, strong full-back with a cultured left-foot and a dangerous long-throw. From my point of view, Abdul is actually one of the best attacking players at Bechem United FC. Ofosu had a poor game by his high standards, struggling with the lively Okrah. Captain James Yaw Papa Yeboah and Maxwell Mensah (born 04.10.1985) played in the heart of the defence, having a hard time controlling Ahmed Touré. Mensah is usually a very confident central defender who has been a key performer this season.

Theophilus Apoh (born 30.04.1985), formerly of Hearts of Oak SC, played at the central midfield together with the talented Evans Osei. Apoh is a strong, hard-tackling player while Osei is a tricky and creative player who I think can reach far. Abraham Annan (born 08.12.1988) had a very quiet game at the left side of the midfield while the usually brilliant right-winger Peter Essien was rather average. Essien has been linked to several Ghanian top clubs during the season. The picture is of Essien and is taken from Ghanasoccernet. Annan was replaced with the burly striker Eric Fordjour (07.08.1988) who made a good account of himself, impressing with his strength and power.

Essien has perhaps been the most exciting player at Bechem United FC this season, alongside top striker Richard Addai (born 27.07.1986). Essien was replaced with striker Adamu Issah.

Addai, top scorer at the club with 11 league goals, worked hard and gave room for his new striking partner, the experienced Reginald Asante. Asante, a much-travelled attacker, was a trialist at Polish club GKS Belchatow in 2007 and apparently had a stint at Vietnamese club Quan khu 4 in 2009. According to some sources, Asante was part of Liberty Professionals FC during the GLO Premier League 2010-2011, but I am not able to document any games played. Asante scored a wonderful hattrick, scoring once with a powerful shot, once with a strong header and one clinical penalty goal.

I am not sure but I think central defender Bismark Yaw Osei made a substitute appearance as well.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 13/05/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2012

* ABS FC has apparently signed Jean Parfait Konan, an Ivorian central defender, from the Kwara Football Academy.

* Abdulrahman Bashir of ABS FC, a petit, hard-running striker with a massive work-rate, has scored six league goals so far this season, forming a dangerous striking pair with Andrew Abalogu. Abalogu, who was signed from Abia Warriors FC before the season, has scored five goals in his debut season at top level of Nigerian football.

The picture is of Bashir and is taken from SuperSport.

* Goalkeeper Jonah Usman of ABS FC, also signed from the Kwara Football Academy, was recently named in the squad of the Nigeria U-17 national football team. Usman is most likely 16 years old but has nevertheless made his top level debut during the Nigeria Premier League 2012.

* Akwa United FC has signed striker Meshack Chukwubuikem. Chukwubuikem played for Shooting Stars FC during the Nigeria Premier League 2009-2010. In October 2010, Chukwubuikem was a trialist at Danish outfit Esbjerg fB. He played for Egyptian side Smouha during the season 2010-2011.

* Sarafa Usman, a midfielder, has been in great form for Akwa United FC this season. Usman is a former player of Sunshine Stars FC and Kwara United FC.

* Earlier this month, I wrote about Hamza Ikenna Onwuemenyi of Akwa United FC who was recently named in the squad of the Nigeria B national football team. I wrote that Onwuemenyi is a right-back, born 04.04.1988. I have recently discovered that Onwuemenyi is a former player of Gabros International FC and on their former homepage, Onwuemenyi was described as a defensive midfielder, born 30.03.1990, with “marking and passing ability” as his major strengths.

*Ghanaian striker James Amankwei (born 09.11.1987) and Ivorian striker Boris Konan failed to break through at Heartland FC and Rangers International FC, respectively. Both strikers have recently joined Dolphins FC. Dolphins FC could need a free-scoring striker as their current top scorer is Ghanaian Owusu Addai (born 04.02.1985) with only four goals.

* Enyimba FC has signed versatile attacker Ifeanyi Okoye (born 06.01.1990) from Warri Wolves FC.

* Gombe United FC has signed goalkeeper Timothy Unachukwu who played for Niger Tornadoes FC last season. Unachukwu will fight with veteran goalkeeper Ahmed Yusuf for the number one shirt. Other new signings include defender Ola Ogundele from second level side Zamfara United FC, central defender Maurice Chigozie from Jigawa Golden Stars FC and the versatile Tunde Aremu from Wikki Tourists FC.

* Midfielder Abubakar Nazim of Gombe United FC scored his first ever league goal on 09.05.2012. Nazim played for Bukola Babes FC last season.

* Emmanuel Mathias (born 03.04.1986) is a right-back with several full international matches for Togo. Mathias joined Heartland FC earlier this season but has yet to establish himself in the first team. Mathias has played professionally for Hapoel Petach Tikva (Israel), El-Gawafel de Gafsa (Tunisia) and Espérance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia).

* I believe Heartland FC has signed Emeka Ogbu (born 22.02.1990) from Campos FC, an amateur football club based in Owerri. Ogbu is a powerful centre forward, apparently 186 centimeters tall.

* Playmaker Rabiu Ali and centre forward Mohammed Gambo (born 10.03.1988) have both eight league goals to their name at the time of writing. The brilliant Ali is a good tip for the “NPL Player of the season-award”.

* Ocean Boys FC is experiencing a mass exodus of players. Top striker Emmanuel Enize and promising winger Chiamaka Madu have both joined Sharks FC and will be sorely missed. Central defender Dengo Ebinipere (born 10.06.1990) has apparently joined Dolphins FC.

* Struggling Rising Stars FC has signed a few experienced players lately, including Ado Mohammed, the former striker of Shooting Stars FC.

* Shooting Stars FC has signed a couple of players to improve their poor season, including Christian Kelechi from Rising Stars FC and attacker Gabriel Adikwu from Lobi Stars FC.

* Francis Nnedum (born 23.06.1988) has been a revelation at defensive midfield for Warri Wolves FC this season. Nnedum is a former player of Gabros International FC.

* Alaba Johnson (five league goals) and Abubakar Umar (four league goals) have been sensational for Wikki Tourists FC this season. I have just learned that both Johnson and Umar were signed from Jarma FC, an amateur side from Kano in Northern Nigeria.

* Sunday John Bosco Okoh (born 22.11.1985) is the new goalkeeper at Wikki Tourists FC. Okoh is a former player of Enyimba FC.

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