Posted by: westafricanfootball | 02/03/2012

LIST OF SCORERS – MTN ELITE ONE 2012

The teams in the Cameroonian MTN Elite One 2012 have all played six matches of the new season. In this post, I will present all scorers so far in this exciting league.

Four players are sharing the top goalscorer position, each with four goals: Midfielder Thierry Makon Nloga (born 09.10.1983) and striker Hermann Landry Tonye Hagbe comes from the newly promoted side New Star de Douala. Joël Moise Babanda (born 12.01.1980), the veteran playmaker of Union Douala, and promising attacker Alex Ngamou (born 15.01.1990) of Unisport FC are the two other players.

There are several new faces at this list. One player that has caught my eye is the new striker of Cotonsport FC, Didier Bassamagne Moundobou (born 01.06.1992), a promising and powerful striker signed from Pathos Sports Academy. A clip of the player can be watched here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJCyTB7b0Jw

AIGLE ROYAL MENOUA (1 goal)

Nana Arnaud Njeukou 1.

ASTRES FC (8 goals)

Aimé Gerard Mangolo 3, Augustin Dourwe Taoga 2, Kelvin Agbor 1, Joseph Julien Momasso 1, Ernest Nsombo 1.

CANON YAOUNDÉ (7 goals)

Yazid Atouba Emane 2, Philippe Ngom Balonga 1, Joël Emmanuel Kofana 1, Alain Roger Ndjan 1, Frédéric Nguidjol 1, Own Goals 1.

COTONSPORT FC (9 goals)

Jean Jules Bapidi Fils 2, Jusly Gitel Boukama Kaya 2, Didier Bassamagne Moundobou 1, Jacques Haman 1, Chardin Madila Mfoutou 1, Own Goals 2.

NEW STAR DE DOUALA (13 goals)

Thierry Makon Nloga 4, Hermann Landry Tonye Hagbe 4, Tobie Julien Ebah 2, Hervé Guillaume Boumsong 1, Eboa Mbock Mbonjo 1, Roméo Yem Yem 1.

NJALLA QUAN (5 goals)

Frankline Metuge 2, Joseph Marie Gaël Foé 1, Fabrice Kerdy 1, Charles Zeh Nghie 1.

PANTHÈRE SPORTIVE (5 goals)

Ngampiep Vigny Kologni 2, Ronald Fogang 1, Gerard Pahane 1, Hamgue Armand Tchangue 1.

RENAISSANCE NGOUMOU (0 goals)

SABLE FC (7 goals)

Harry Ako 2, Chanabou Gassissou 2, Franck Hemmo Simo 2, Samuel Bitte 1.

SCORPION FC (3 goals)

Pierre Fanguargue 2, Abdouraman Siddi 1.

TIKO UNITED FC (3 goals)

David Ambeno Ake 1, Alain Nkafu 1, Franklin Nougoum Ngassam 1.

UNION DOUALA (8 goals)

Joël Moise Babanda 4, Charles Edoa Nga 1, Jean-Paul Ekane Ngah 1, Vincent Mbarga Manga 1, Arnaud Monkam Nguekam 1.

UNISPORT FC (10 goals)

Alex Ngamou 4, Marcellin Ngando Mbiala 2, Barnabé Patrick Atangana 1, Charles Eloundou Etoundi 1, Kerrido Haschou 1, Charles Lobe Lembe 1.

YOSA (3 goals)

Jude Vernyuy Kongnyuy 2, Ekome Bwende 1.

The picture is of Jean Jules Bapidi Fils, the brilliant midfielder of Cotonsport FC, and is taken from tunisie-foot.com.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 29/02/2012

OSAGUONA IGHODARO

Osaguona Ighodaro has been one of the revelations of the Nigeria Premier League 2012. Ighodaro signed for Shooting Stars FC, based in Ibadan in south-western Nigeria, before the new season and was completely unknown to fans of Nigerian football. At the time of writing, Ighodaro has scored four league goals in eight performances, making him the top scorer at the club. Interestingly, Ighodaro has started only three of these eight matches.

Ighodaro has been described as the “leading striker” at the club. He has impressed with his aerial power, his hard work, his excellent ball movement and his positioning.

According to http://www.shootingstarssc.net/, the official homepage of the “Oluyole Warriors”, Ighodaro is born 19.06.1992 and was signed from a club called “Belf FC”. The wonderful webpage http://felele247.com/ confirms the name “Belf FC” and states that this is a club from Benin. As far as I know, there are no team in Benin called “Belf FC” and I have a theory that the club is in fact “Buffles du Borgou” from Parakou in eastern Benin. A few days ago, SuperSport wrote that Ighodaro is in fact a former player of Buffles du Borgou:

http://www.supersport.com/football/nigeria/news/120229/Top_flight_action_excites_Ighodaro.

According to bjfoot.com, a player called “Christian Ighodaro” has been playing for Buffles du Borgou. The player is born 10.10.1990:

http://bjfoot.com/bjfoot_team/buffles-du-borgou/

According to the same webpage, “Christian Ighodaro” was 20 years old in November 2010 and is 188 centimeters.

Personally, I am pretty sure that “Christian Ighodaro” and Osaguona Ighodaro is the same player. It is difficult to find information about football in Benin but some sources describe Ighodaro as the star player of Buffles. I know that he had scored three or four league goals after 16 rounds of the Benin Première Division 2010-2011.

Unfortunately, there seems to be some confusion regarding the age of Ighodaro and it is uncertain whether he will turn 20 or 22 during 2012. In any case, Ighodaro seems like a very interesting player who could be a star in the making.

Ighodaro is also known as “Osagona Ighodaro”. The picture is of the team of Shooting Stars FC and is taken from shootingstarssc.net. I am not sure whether Ighodaro is in the picture.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 20/02/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE MTN ELITE ONE 2012 – CAMEROON (PART TWO)

NEW STAR DE DOUALA

If you look at the final table from the MTN Elite Two 2010-2011, you will see that CNIC-UIC de Douala won promotion to the MTN Elite One. I am not sure what has happened, but the club has apparently changed name to New Star de Douala and will compete under this name. I have been wondering whether New Star de Douala is a completely new club as only a couple of players from CNIC-UIC de Douala have been retained.

One of the retained players, striker Hermann Landry Tonye Hagbe has already scored four league goals for the newcomer, including a hat-trick. Tonye Hagbe played for Union Douala during the MTN Elite One 2008-2009.

Interestingly, several of the new players are former players of Astres Douala, including Paul Roland Bebey Kingué (born 09.11.1986), Jean Claude Bessong a Riwou (born 01.01.1983), Tobie Julien Ebah, Jean Marc Epée Diboundje (born 25.07.1989), Thierry Medjo Ntye (born 14.03.1989) and Roméo Yem Yem (born 13.06.1990). The versatile attacker Yem Yem has perhaps been the most impressive, equally comfortable on both wings.

Other new players include central defender Hervé Guillaume Boumsong (born 13.12.1988), formerly of Canon Yaoundé, midfielder Thierry Makon Nloga (born 09.10.1983), formerly of Caiman Club, goalkeeper Janvier Mbarga (born 27.09.1985), formerly of Union Douala, midfielder Eboa Mbock Mbonjo, formerly of Union Douala and left-winger Arnauld Ngouyap (born 25.12.1986), formerly of Fovu Club. Makon Nloga has been particulary impressive, scoring goals in his last three matches.

Most players mentioned are experienced performers but perhaps not too exciting from a talent scout’s point of view. Personally, I am more interested in versatile defender Idriss Nguessi (born 02.05.1992) who played for the Cameroon U-20 national football team during the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2011.

It’s not often you see a side being built on so many new players. So far, New Stars de Douala has scored a lot of goals (10) and conceded almost as many (9) and I guess it will take time before they are a consistent performer in the league.

NJALLA QUAN

The newly promoted side has done well in their debut season at top level. Striker Frankline Metuge (born 17.06.1988) has showed impressive form and scored the first ever top level goal of Njalla Quan. Their new goalkeeper Sadjo Sodea (born 01.01.1983), signed from Scorpion FC, looks solid. Other key players include defender Ransom Etengeneg Akangmba (born 11.03.1990) and midfielder Stanley Ekema (born 11.08.1987).

PANTHÈRE SPORTIVE

Impressive goalkeeper Alain Tekeu Tchoumte and left-winger Ngampiep Vigny Kologni (born 27.11.1983) are perhaps the biggest stars of Panthère Sportive. Two new signings from Unisport FC also looks promising, namely winger Joseph Kajo Kameni (born 21.10.1988) and midfielder Hamgue Armand Tchangue (born 28.11.1987).

RENAISSANCE NGOUMOU

Renaissance has yet to score a single goal this season. Teenage striker Patrick Anaba Metogo or the newly signed striker Christian Fack Bayokolack, formerly of Canon Yaoundé, should be able to score some goals this season, but my guess for top scorer is playmaker Alix Bertin Ondobo Ebanga (born 26.01.1990). Renaissance has two interesting goalkeepers in Eric Ngana (born 03.10.1992) and Ferdinand Ngarwa (born 27.06.1991). The defensive pair of Ibrahim Walidjo and Robert Ntolla Nguena (born 16.04.1985) also looks strong. Ntolla Nguena captained Canon Yaoundé last season and this is truly a great signing for the modest club, well-known for developing talented players.

SABLE FC

Sable FC has two solid goalkeepers in Franck Olivier Zibi and Thierry Tangouatio (born 04.05.1992). The defence is marshaled by Basile Baba (born 10.09.1984) while Harry Ako is the main man in midfield. Striker Daouda Souaibou (born 20.03.1984) scored regularly for Ngaoundéré University FC last season and he will most likely become an important player at Sable FC. Striker Franck Hemmo Simo was mostly a substitute last season, but scored two goals against New Stars FC in Round 4.

SCORPION FC

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find one Scorpion FC line-up during their first four matches. However, I know that the club has lost three of their best players: goalkeeper Sadjo Sodea to Njalla Quan, attacking midfielder Augustin Dourwe Taoga to Astres Douala and top scorer Patrick Naï to YOSA.

TIKO UNITED FC

Tiko United FC has made a big name signing in experienced centre-forward Robert Jama Mba (born 23.03.1980), a former member of the the Indomitable Lions. Jama Mba was last seen in Tanzania, playing for Young Africans. Defensive midfielder Mario Williams Elimbi is a player to watch.

UNION DOUALA

Perhaps Union Douala could be challenging Cotonsport FC this season? They have definitely made some smart moves on the transfer marked before the season. Mfombam Mounchili is the new first choice goalkeeper, signed from APEJES FC de Mfou. Mounchili was training with the Cameroon U-23 national football team last year. Jacques Bertin Nguemaleu (born 02.09.1989) is still leading the defence together with Souleymanou Mandjombe (born 03.05.1987), signed from Tiko United FC. Ludovick Yvon Mintya Angoh (born 12.08.1986) is a creative force in the middle of the park and new signing Joël Moise Babanda (born 12.01.1984) has already scored three goals since joining from Cotonsport FC. The picture is of Babanda and is taken from Lechabba. Arnaud Monkam Nguekam (born 22.02.1986), also signed from Cotonsport FC, has not been able to cement his place in the team despite his obvious talent. Clevis Tambe Ashu (born 01.01.1985), the third newcomer from Cotonsport FC, is a brilliant winger, providing crosses for top striker Charles Edoa Nga (born 17.05.1990).

Serge Ane, who was part of the Cameroon U-17 national football team last year, joined Union from the Friendship Academy in Douala and has already forced his way into the team despite his young age. Ane started the first three matches of the season.

UNISPORT FC

Unisport FC could also be a candidate for silverware this season. The majestetic Kerrido Haschou has taken over the gloves after Collins Maifanya. Charles Lobe Lembe (born 15.07.1987) and Thierry Tonye Biheng (born 24.10.1987) are still two of the best defenders in the league. Marcellin Ngando Mbiala (born 27.02.1989) is a free-scoring midfielderand Gérard Bakinde Bilong is an interesting newcomer from Union Douala. Alex Ngamou (born 15.01.1990), a striker or winger, has been impressive, scoring in each of the three first matches of the season. Valentin Bertrand Biloa (born 12.06.1988) should also chip in with a couple of goals.

YOSA

The Young Sports Academy has gotten back their perhaps all-time best player, brilliant striker Jude Vernyuy Kongnyuy (born 05.05.1989). Kongnyuy scored in the two first rounds of football and has apparently returned a better player after a stint in Syria and Al-Ittihad. Patrick Naï (born 27.01.1992), the new signing from Scorpion FC, Tagne Fotso and Christian Deugoue are all quality strikers so YOSA should be able to score goals this year.

Please note that this article was written on 18.02.2012.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 18/02/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2012

* It’s not easy to find information about Akwa United FC but I am starting to get a better picture of their squad. “The Promise Keepers” has signed Musa Najare (born 16.01.1992), primarily comfortable as left-back or left-winger, from Rangers International FC. Roman Oriah was one of the players that led Akwa United FC to promotion and the lanky striker is still part of the team.

* One of the things that fascinate me about Nigerian football is that a player can come from absolutely nowhere and immediately become a household name. Dolphins FC, who won the championship last year, recently signed Ghanaian Abuu Seidu (born 03.07.1986) from amateur side Sunyani Suncity FC. Seidu is a defensive midfielder who was registered for Heart of Lions FC during the GLO Premier League 2008-2009. Seidu has never broken through at any Ghanaian side but scored on his debut for Dolphins FC and has gotten some rave reviews.

* It’s no secret that Gbolahan Salami (born 15.04.1991) has been involved in controversy the last couple of years and the talented striker was in desperate need for a fresh start. Salami chose his new club wisely, signing for the sleeping giants Enyimba FC. He scored two goals in his debut against Gombe United FC and yet again showed how extremely strong he is. His two goals can be viewed in the following clip:

http://www.supersport.com/football/nigerian-premier-league/video/129381

* It can now be confirmed that Ayo Saka (born 22.12.1990) has joined Enyimba FC from Ocean Boys FC. Saka is a powerful, elegant attacking midfielder, widely considered as one of the best in the league.

* I’m getting the feeling that Uche Agbo (born in 1991), the new central midfielder from JUTH FC, could have a bright future at Enyimba FC and eventually, bigger clubs. I have seen some clips of Agbo and I like his ability to bring the ball forward.

* The last couple of matches, Enyimba FC has used a youngster called “Nonso Okonkwo” or “Chinonso Okonkwo”. According to fresh reports, Okonwko is an exciting player and I am currently trying to find more information about the player.

* Josiah Maduabuchi (born 16.05.1989), the attacking midfielder or right-winger, has scored five league goals in seven matches for Enyimba FC.

* According to unconfirmed sources, Mustapha Babadidi of Gombe United FC, the joint top scorer in the Nigeria Premier League with six goals, was recently named in the squad of the Nigeria U-17 national football team.

* Heartland FC has made a great signing in attacking midfielder Christopher Chigozie (born 04.02.1992). Chigozie was brilliant for Ocean Boys FC last season and joined Dolphins FC during the mid-season transfer window. His stay in Port Harcourt was not a success, mostly because of injury.

* Heartland FC has also signed Ghanaian striker James Amankwei (born 09.11.1987) from JUTH FC.

* Striker Segun Alebiosu has been a sensation at Kwara United FC, scoring three league goals so far in February 2012. According to unconfirmed sources, Alebiosu was recently named in the squad of the Nigeria U-17 national football team.

* I am happy to see that the career of Usman Amodu (born 16.12.1990) seems to be on the right track. The left-back / central defender was one of the stars of the Nigeria U-17 national football team who won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2007 and he is currently starring in the defence of Kwara United FC. Here is a video showing some of his quality:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5DkUnLggNI

* It’s getting more and more common that former professional players return to the Nigerian league. Henry Akile (born 22.12.1987) of Lobi Stars FC is such an example. Akile, a former star player of Wikki Tourists FC, is perhaps most famous for his stay in Al-Gouna of Egypt.

* Lobi Stars FC has also signed enterprising winger Nelson Friday Nimyel (born 30.11.1993) from Kaduna United FC.

* Ocean Boys FC has signed an interesting attacking midfielder / striker called Onoriode Odah (born 14.04.1992) apparently from an amateur side called Fame FC. Odah was actually a trialist at Norwegian side Tromsø IL in February 2010. Odah was training with the Nigeria U-23 national football team during 2011.

The picture is of Odah and is taken from Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

* Rangers International FC has signed a lot of inexperienced youngsters during the last year, including attacking midfielder Ebuka Onovo (born 10.03.1992).

* Surprisingly, Ajani Ibrahim (born 05.03.1987) of Sunshine Stars FC, last season’s top scorer, has yet to score a goal after seven matches. On 15.02.2012, youngster Harrison Egbune scored his first goal for Sunshine Stars FC since joining from Crown FC, apparently a beautiful free-kick.

* Sunshine Stars FC has signed talented left-back Onoriede Imeke from Ocean Boys FC.

* Attacking midfielder Sunday Mba (born 28.11.1988) of Warri Wolves FC scored both goals when the Nigeria B national football team won 2-0 against Liberia earlier this week.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 17/02/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE MTN ELITE ONE 2012 – CAMEROON (PART ONE)

Four rounds have been played in the Cameroonian MTN Elite One 2012. As always, information is hard to find but here are some observations from this exciting league.

AIGLE ROYAL

Fans of this newly promoted side, based in Dschang in Western Cameroon, must be disappointed as the club lost two of their most important players before the new season, namely striker Dieudonné Evina Manga and defender Abed Nego Tembeng, who both joined ambitious club Astres Douala.

Apparently, the club has brought in a dozen new players and only retained nine players from the team that won protomotion. Personally, I think the squad looks very inexperienced. Players with top level experience include defender Yannick Gaël Ntonme, formerly of Tiko United FC, David Mpouma, formerly of Union Douala, striker Nana Arnaud Njeukou, formerly of Union Douala and veteran striker Lenekourman Baidam (born 02.04.1984), formerly of Cotonsport FC and Roumde Adjia FC. Njeukou has scored the only league goal of the club so far this season.

From my point of view, one of the most interesting players in the squad is full-back Joël Sandriel Boheu, who was part of the Cameroon U-20 national football team in 2010, playing for third level side FC Yaoundé II Formation. The following video shows a few glimpses of his quality:

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

ASTRES DOUALA

As always, Astres Douala has signed a lot of new players. It remains to be seen whether the new players will blend in well with the retained players. Veteran goalkeeper Lawrence Ngome (born 23.02.1979) has been first choice so far this season. Abed Nego Tembeng, the new defender from Aigle Royal, looks promising and is already an established member of the team. Tembeng was part of the Cameroon U-23 national football team last year. Right-back Jean Patrick Abouna Ndzana (born 27.09.1990), arguably the best player in the MTN Elite One, struggles to find a club in Europe and is still part of the squad. Abouna Ndzana is truly a wonderful player and personally, I cannot understand why he has not been signed by a mid-level European club. Here is a video of the player:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhORnRg2NEY

Astres has signed three attacking midfielders who were all star players at smaller clubs last season, namely Alain Assana (born 17.01.1986) from Ngaoundéré University FC, Mbeleg Inouni (born 08.06.1988) from Caiman Club and Augustin Dourwe Taoga from Scorpion FC. Dourwe Taoga scored on his debut for Astres. Playmaker Christian Heumi Kabon (born 01.01.1989) and left-winger Joseph Julien Momasso (born 09.12.1985) are also key midfielders with mostly attacking qualities. Perhaps Astres is missing a couple of holding midfielders to balance the team?

Up-front, Astres will rely on Ernest Nsombo (born 06.03.1991), one of the revelations from last season, and new signing Kelvin Agbor (born 11.07.1987) from Tiko United FC. Dieudonné Evina Manga (born 22.12.1991), the striker signed from Aigle Royal, also looks interesting.

CANON YAOUNDÉ

Canon Yaoundé, once upon a time the powerhouse of Cameroonian football, has made a terrible start to the new season, collecting only one point in four matches. Yazid Atouba Emane (born 02.01.1993) is one of the few bright spots and the petit attacking midfielder or left-winger is truly one of the finest talents in the league. Here is a video clip of Atouba Emane: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlM6N9-QDTI

Veteran Philippe Ngom Balonga (born 01.04.1987) is back at Canon Yaoundé and has been made captain of the team. On paper, the attacking pair of Frédéric Nguidjol and Alain Roger Ndjan should be able to score goals.

It’s interesting to see the number of players at Canon Yaoundé who have previously been at Renaissance FC de Ngoumou. From the top of my head, I can name the following players: Yazid Atouba Emane, Marcellin Bisso, Victor Kalla Kalla, Frédéric Nguidjol, Alain Roger Ndjan, David Paul Assonganyi and Christian Tsala Amougou.

COTONSPORT FC

Cotonsport FC has become league champions nine of the eleven last seasons and is naturally favourites this year too. However, based on the current squad of the team, I think other teams may have a chance this year. I think the team looks somewhat inexperienced this year and as star striker Hilaire Momi left for Le Mans UC in France, it is difficult to see that the squad contains a player who can score 15-20 league goals. However, experience tells me that Cotonsport FC has the financial muscles to beef up their squad should they begin to struggle.

Despite my insecurity, I must say that the squad contains some extremely interesting players this year. At the time of writing, goalkeeper Loic Maxime Feudjou (born 14.04.1992) is one of the major talking points of Cameroonian football. A few days ago, Feudjou was included in the squad of the Indomitable Lions, the Cameroon national football team. The youngster was signed from amateur club Botafogo FC before the new season. The following clip shows glimpses of his qualities: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xfAiw1OaFU

Interestingly, the wonderful form of Feudjou has reduced big name signing Jean Efala Komguep (born 11.08.1992) to the bench. Efala Komguep was widely regarded as the most promising goalkeeper in Cameroon when he joined the champions from Fovu Club before the new season. The 19-year old has plenty of experience from the Cameroon U-20 national football team and has also been training with the Indomitable Lions.

Needless to say, Cotonsport FC has the most interesting goalkeeping pair in the league and hopefully, they are able to push eachother towards stardom.

Fousseni Traoré (born 15.07.1984) is a new central defender from Burkina Faso. The experienced player, a full international player for Les Etalons, played professionally in Algeria for MC Saïda in 2008-2009 and has also played for AS FAN(Niger) and Darnes(Libya).

In December 2011, I wrote about two of the new players at Cotonsport FC, Djene Dakonam (born 31.12.1991) from Togo and Jusly Gitel Boukama Kaya (born 05.02.1993) from the Republic of Congo:

http://westafricanfootball.com/2011/12/17/djene-dakonam/

http://westafricanfootball.com/2011/12/14/jusly-gitel-boukama-kaya/

Both players have already established themselves in the team, Dakonam as a defender or defensive midfielder and Boukama Kaya as a left-winger or striker. Boukama Kaya has already scored his first goal for his new club.

Defensive midfielder Jean Jules Bapidi Fils (born 08.03.1989) won a dream contract with Tunisian top club Espérance Sportive de Tunis in the season 2009-2010 but has now returned to Cameroon and Cotonsport FC. Bapidi Fils is a very strong and physical player but is also comfortable with the ball in his feet. Chardin Madila Mfoutou (born 15.04.1990), a full international player for the Republic of Congo, and Baba Ousmaila (born 26.09.1986) are also wonderful players in the middle of the park.

Up-front, Cotonsport FC has two of the most interesting strikers in the country, namely Emmanuel Mbongo Ewangue (born 13.03.1993) and Jacques Haman (born 30.08.1994). Both players made their debut at top level last season and although they are immensely talented, I doubt that they can score double figures in the league. Perhaps A Bidias Franck Namatchoua (born 09.03.1989) can become one of the revelations of the new season? The big striker was signed from CNIC-UIC de Douala before the new season. Apparently, Namatchoua was top scorer at second level of Cameroonian football in 2010-2011.

The picture is taken from Lechabba and shows striker A Bidias Franck Namatchoua (left) and goalkeeper Loic Maxime Feudjou (right).

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 13/02/2012

MUSTAPHA BABADIDI

Mustapha Babadidi of Gombe United FC, based in the city of Gombe in northeastern Nigeria, is arguably the hottest player in the Nigeria Premier League 2012. The young striker is the current top scorer in the league with six league goals in eight matches, the same number of goals as striking partner Sanusi Sani. Babadidi was recently picked as the Naija Premier League Player of January.

Babadidi joined Gombe United FC before the Nigeria Premier League 2010-2011, apparently from an amateur club called Flash Flamingoes FC. Babadidi made a great impression, although he was often used as a substitute. Babadidi scored four league goals during the season, five goals behind top scorer Adamu Mohammed. Mohammed joined Dolphins FC after the season, making room for the partnership of Babadidi and Sani, so far the success story of the new season.

It’s not easy to find information about Babadidi. Gombe United FC is a club that rarely gets any attention, as often is the case with the clubs from the northern parts of Nigeria.

Babadidi is primarily a centre-forward or a right-winger. He is known for his ability to peel off defenders and to run into space. He is an extremely fast player with good ball control and dribbling abilities. Based on pictures I’ve seen, he seems to be rather average in size, obviously not a target man but more of a lively, lightening-fast attacker.

At about 3:50 of this video clip, you will see Babadidi score his sixth league goal of the season, a clinical finish from close range against Enyimba FC on 12.02.2012:

http://www.supersport.com/football/nigerian-premier-league/video/129381

After the match, Austin Eguavoen, the coach of Enyimba FC, stated the following: “Babadidi is on top of his game, he will not stop running”.

The birthdate of Babadidi is not known but I am pretty sure that he is very young. According to 2muchsports, Babadidi is born 16.10.1997, which I believe must be a spelling error. If this was correct, Babadidi would have been 14 when he scored his first league goal in Nigeria, which seems unlikely. MTN Football has previously described Babadidi as a “youngster” while SuperSport has referred to Babadidi as a “teenager”. Earlier this month, kpaka2score.com described Babadidi as a “16-year-old striker”, suggesting that he is born in 1995. Personally, I think this could be correct.

The full name of Babadidi is “Mustapha Sule Babadidi”. He is sometimes referred to as “Babadidi Sule”.

Babadidi is still a relatively unknown name in Nigerian football but his recent performances have been tremendous. If his talent is developed in the right way, Babadidi could become the next star player leaving the Nigeria Premier League, following in the footsteps of for instance Ahmed Musa of CSKA Moscow.

The picture of Babadidi is taken from naijaligue.blogspot.com.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 07/02/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2012 – PART FIVE

SHOOTING STARS FC

New signing Olamakinde Talabi is one of the most hyped players in the league right now, despite mostly having made substitute appearances at Shooting Stars FC. Talabi scored in his debut and has been described as a skillful player with a great shot who loves to cut in from either wing. The attacking midfielder, formerly of amateur side Ijebu United FC, is born 16.06.1995 according to http://www.shootingstarssc.net.

Another player getting a lot of attention is Hamed Adesope (born 22.10.1985) who has been brilliant in the central defence after his transfer from TDCS Dong Thap FC of Vietnam. Adesope is not the only new player that has joined 3SC from foreign countries. New goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye (born 07.08.1990) was on the books of Spanish third level side Pontevedra CF, while new striker Thomas Adesina Adeniran (born 15.01.1992) won the Ivorian championship with Africa Sports from Abidjan. According to SoccerAssociation, usually a reliable source, Ajiboye played only one match for the Spanish outfit.

Youngster Taofeek Akanbi has joined 3SC from Crown FC. Akanbi, who scored eight league goals for the relegated side last season, got a lot of media attention when it was known that FC Bayern München (Germany) and Arsenal FC (England) was following him closely. Right-back Seun Akinyemi, defensive midfielder Ibrahim Babalola and attacking midfielder Olayiwola Oyeleke (born 18.09.1985) are also new players from Crown FC. The talented striker Aaron Samuel, formerly of Dolphins FC, has gotten a lot of chances but has been somewhat wasteful in front of goal.

Youngster Chima Akas (born 03.05.1994) is currently training with Norwegian top level side SK Brann. Akas, an energetic left-back or left-winger, was brilliant during the Nigeria Premier League 2010-2011, scoring five league goals and impressing with good crosses and dangerous free kicks.

The picture is of Akanbi and is taken from SuperSport.

SUNSHINE STARS FC

If I would pick one player in the Nigeria Premier League that I am sure is ready for Europe I would say Godfrey Oboabona (born 16.08.1990) of Sunshine Stars FC. Oboabona, the team captain, is such a strong player, operating from the central defence or at defensive midfield, and is brilliant from set-pieces. He has already scored three goals this season, mostly through penalties.

The squad of Sunshine Stars FC contains some really good attackers this season. Izu Azuka (born 24.05.1989) returns to Nigeria after a spell in Algeria for JS Kabylie. Osamudiamen Idehen (born 13.05.1990) somewhat disappeared after winning a professional contract in Vietnam. Idehen did well for Xi mang Hai Phong but the former Enyimba-ace is back in the Nigerian league with Sunshine Stars FC. Fans of Nigerian football will probably remember Idehen as the player that scored two goals in his debut match for the Nigeria national football team (03.03.2010 against DR Congo). Ajani Ibrahim (born 05.03.1987) is well-known after his 18 goals from last season. Sakibu Atanda (born 20.03.1988) should also be mentioned. These four players should all be able to score double figures this season.

Seun Olulayo, a new central defender from neighbours Rising Stars FC, looks very promising.

WARRI WOLVES FC

Warri Wolves FC has been able to hold on to most of their stars and has also brought Jude Aneke (born 07.01.1989), arguably the best striker in the Nigerian league, to the club. Key players will be well-known faces such as goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim (born 28.11.1984), defenders Ike Thankgod (born 04.04.1985), Azubuike Egwuekwe and Goodluck Onomado (born 16.11.1988), attacking midfielders Uremu Michael Egbeta (born 15.11.1991) and Michael Okoye and strong support striker Efe Yarhere.

WIKKI TOURISTS FC

The newly promoted side has lost key players Nura Nakargo and Solomon Jefferson to Akwa United FC, but things do not look too bad. Goalkeeper Abdul Isa (born 10.08.1985), central defender Ismaila Suleiman, right-back Festus Umanah, attacking midfielder Tijani Adamu are all great signings from Plateau United FC, Lobi Stars FC, Ocean Boys FC, Sunshine Stars FC respectively. Isa, arguably the best beach football goalkeeper in Nigeria, will face competition from Yusuf Babangida. The new players have blended in well with retained players such as Emenike Onuoha and team captain Babatunde Aremu. A few years ago, striker Bishop Onyeudo was starring for Enyimba FC and Rangers International FC. Onyeudo is now back at top level and will be hoping to get his career on the right track.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 06/02/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2012 – PART FOUR

OCEAN BOYS FC

In November 2011, Ugonna Ezenwaka of Lagos-based second division side 36 Lions FC was surprisingly named in the squad of the Nigeria U-23 national football team. Ezenwaka, apparently a defensive midfielder, joined Ocean Boys FC before the current season and is already an established member of the first team. On 29.01.2012, Ezekwaka scored his first ever goal at top level of Nigerian football. Ospino Ogbe, the young goalkeeper, has taken over the number one shirt at Ocean Boys FC and has gotten some rave reviews. Ogbe was backup goalkeeper for star player Olufemi Thomas, who joined Akwa United FC, last season. Attacker Emmanuel Enize will be captaining Ocean Boys FC this season. Enize, arguably the most important player in the squad, has just started his fifth season at the Brass-based club. The up-and-coming attacking midfielder Felix Benjamin is also a player to watch this season.

RANGERS INTERNATIONAL FC

Rangers International FC has made some some wonderful signings during the pre-season transfer window. Until recently, Razaq Adegbite and Chikeluba Francis Ofoedu were rather unknown names to most fans of Nigerian football. Adegbite, a centre-forward signed from second level side Gateway FC, has already scored two league goals in five matches. According to SuperSport, Adegbite is currently 17 years old. Ofoedu is an attacking midfielder or striker, formerly of Enugu-based amateur club UNTH FC. Ofoedu was a trialist at Espérance Sportive de Tunis from Tunisia last month. He is most likely born in 1992.

RISING STARS FC

I doubt that Rising Stars FC, the newly promoted side from Akure, will be push-overs. However, they need to improve their attacking play. Solomon Azuka Enudi and Yakubu Azeez Olarenwaju (born 26.02.1991), arguably the top strikers at the club, has yet to score a goal. However, their defence looks solid and goalkeeper Moruf Olasupo and defenders Adeniyi Adekunle and Akin Ogunboye have performed well. Ogunboye, formerly of Sunshine Stars FC, is one of very few players in the squad with experience from the Nigeria Premier League. Other players in the team that I have been able to identify are: Kehinde Abiodun, Kayode Agboola (striker), captain Alaba Fadoju (attacker), Abimbola Faloye, Christian Kelechi, David Mmadu and Peter Onyekachi (striker). I can document that these players have played at least one match during the first six games of the season. Onyekachi is an interesting player, signed from second level side Abia Warriors FC. On the official homepage of Abia Warriors FC, Onyekachi is described as follows: “A player that would successfully grow in the shoes of Dan “De Bull” Amokachi, very strong on the ball and always a major threat to any opposing defender one of the brightest talent in the club.”

SHARKS FC

On paper, the team of Sharks FC looks rather strong. Okiemute Odah (born 23.11.1988) and Ikechukwu Ezenwa (born 16.10.1988) are both agile goalkeepers. Juwon Oshaniwa is one of the best left-backs in the league and Odinga Odinga (born 13.05.1985) is captaining the team from the right-back. Thankgod Amaefule (born 16.12.1984), Fortune Chukwudi (born 18.11.1992), Pape Ousmane Sané (born 21.02.1984) and Pierre Coly are usually rock-solid in the heart of the defence. Coly, the Senegalese strongman, is finally licended to play for his new team after the transfer from Casa Sport. Bernard Okorowanta (born 11.12.1986) and Kola Anubi (born 24.03.1987) are both experienced midfielders with a lot of quality. Senegalese left-winger Abdou Sagna, signed from Casa Sport, right-winger Gomo Onduku and the versatile attacker Terry Envoh (born 12.12.1992) are often impossible to stop when they are racing down the flanks. New signing Sam Ledor (born in 1983) should be able to provide a platform behind the frontal crew of the team. Up-front, Sharks FC has the promising Bright Ejike, veteran Victor Ezeji (born 09.06.1981), the burly Andrew Michael (born 04.08.1992) and new signing Amakiri George (born 14.01.1988). George, signed from Enyimba FC, returns to the club he played for during the Nigeria Premier League 2007-2008.

Despite the mentioned quality players, Sharks FC has made a poor start to the season. I expect them to improve drastically during the season. The picture is of first-choice goalkeeper Okiemute Odah and is taken from SuperSport.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 05/02/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2012 – PART THREE

KANO PILLARS FC

Kano Pillars FC lost their top central defender Abdulwasiu Showemimo to Dolphins FC but has replaced him with Papa Idris (born 27.07.1989), the former captain of Kaduna United FC, and veteran Umar Zango, the former captain of Lobi Stars FC. Zango played for Pillars during the Nigeria Premier League 2007-2008. Attacking midfielder Abdullahi Shehu, signed from Plateau United FC, is another interesting newcomer. Kano Pillars FC has managed to retain most of the players from last season. I expect goalkeeper Joel Afelokhai Theophilus (born 07.04.1988), playmaker Rabiu Ali, defensive midfielder Mohammed Shehu Shagari (born 29.11.1990) and the attacking duo of Mohammed Gambo (born 10.03.1988) and Mannir Ubale (born 02.07.1991) to play leading roles this season, just like they did last season.

KWARA UNITED FC

Kwara United FC has made an impressive start to the season. Their defence looks strong, having only conceded one goal in five matches. Kazeem Yekeen (born 01.12.1992), presented in my post from 15.05.2011 (http://westafricanfootball.com/2011/05/15/kazeem-yekeen/), is still first choice goalkeeper but faces tough competition from Michael Uweru, the new signing from Crown FC, and Suraj Ayeleso (born 12.03.1991), the new signing from Bukola Babes FC.

Talented central defender Gbenga Arokoyo (born 01.11.1992) has recently been linked to Swedish outfit Mjällby AIF. Arokoyo, who was presented in my post from 27.02.2011 http://westafricanfootball.com/2011/02/27/gbenga-arokoyo/), has been forming a strong central defence with Seun Sogbeso, a new signing from Bukola Babes FC, or veteran Lukman Ijaiya (born 21.07.1986). The talented Obadaki Halilu (born 20.12.1993) has played well at left-back and as far as I know, Adekunle Muritala is the regular right-back. The midfield is still run by veterans Segun Atere (born 02.11.1985) and Yusuf Jaiyeola (born 11.11.1984) but Isiaka Olawale, who joined Dolphins FC, will be sorely missed. Philip Asuquo and Vincent Ogar have been brought in as replacements from Crown FC and Bukola Babes FC, respectively.

The picture is of Yusuf Jaiyeola and is taken from National Mirror.

The most exciting prospect at the club is arguably star striker Imenger Barnabas. The teenager scored twice against Kaduna United FC on 01.02.2012. Besides Barnabas, I think the attack looks rather weak but Tony Edjomariegwe (born 01.09.1989), a new signing from Crown FC, as well as the rather unknown newcomers of Tayo Fabiyi and Bolaji Simon Sakin, will try to prove me wrong. Especially Fabiyi has gotten some rave reviews and has already been compared to Nwankwo Kanu.

LOBI STARS FC

Lobi Stars FC has strengthened their midfield with the signing of Anthony Abawula (born 23.08.1990), Jonah Abutu (born 27.07.1988) and Lazarus Chukwu. Strongman Abutu was a key player for Dolphins FC in 2009-2010 and Bayelsa United FC in 2008-2009 and will be hoping to get his career back on track. John Lawrence (born 07.04.1987) has been brought in from Enyimba FC to solve the goalkeeping problems at the club. Tony Okpotu, the lively striker, is arguably the player to watch.

NIGER TORNADOES FC

Azuka Ebinum is the big talking point at Niger Tornadoes FC. The rather unknown striker has scored five league goals in six matches. Ebinum joined Tornadoes in 2010-2011 after spending the first part of the season at Zamfara United FC. He scored three goals for Tornadoes after joining the club. His partnership with star striker Sibi Gwar (born 06.09.1987), presented in my post from 19.05.2011 (http://westafricanfootball.com/2011/05/19/sibi-gwar/), could become a sensation.

Posted by: westafricanfootball | 04/02/2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM THE NIGERIA PREMIER LEAGUE 2012 – PART TWO

GOMBE UNITED FC

Gombe United FC is, quite surprisingly, the current leaders of the Nigeria Premier League 2012, mostly because of the impressive attacking duo of Mustapha Babadidi and Sani Sanusi. Babadidi and Sanusi have each scored five league goals and are leading the race for the top scorer award. Both players are apparently products of the youth setup at Gombe United FC and as far as I know, they are both teenagers. Babadidi can also play as a right-winger while Sanusi is more of a typical centre forward. Both players have benefited from the sale of star striker Adamu Mohammed to Dolphins FC and they have taken their chances with both hands.

Gombe United FC has only conceded one goal and their defensive line is marshaled by experienced goalkeeper Uche Akubuike (born 17.03.1980) and the strongman MacMarcel Obioha.

HEARTLAND FC

Heartland FC has been able to keep their most important players and players such as central defender Emmanuel Olowo (born 14.04.1988), Ghanaian left-back Joseph Jackson (born 12.08.1989), midfielder Julius Ubido (born 29.12.1984), playmaker Ikechukwu Ibenegbu (born 22.02.1986), right-winger / attacker Bello Musa Kofarmata (born 12.05.1988) and support striker Osas Okoro (born 07.09.1990) are all players from the top shelf in the Nigeria Premier League.

On 16.01.2012, I wrote that the up-and-coming striker Kabiru Umar had joined Kwara United FC. Unfortunately, this is yet again proving that one should be careful trusting pre-season transfer rumors in Nigeria, even rumors that are presented as facts. Umar never joined Kwara United FC but teamed up with Heartland FC. Personally, I think the striking duo of Okoro and Umar sounds extremely promising.

JIGAWA GOLDEN STARS FC

It is not easy to find information about the newcomers of Jigawa Golden Stars FC but the signing of Bala Mohammed, the former captain of Kano Pillars FC, could be crucial to the success of the team. Mohammed, most likely in his early twenties, is usually a defensive midfielder but can play anywhere in the back four. Noble Anasoh (born 15.07.1989) is a bullish striker and a former product of the Pepsi Football Academy.

KADUNA UNITED FC

Kaduna United FC has experienced a mass-exodus of players and they are currently building a new team pretty much from scratch. Central defender Jonathan Akinlade, left-back Anthony Michael, and dynamic striker Ali Adamu are some of the players that stayed and they will all play significant roles. Adamu is my guess for the top scorer award at the club this season. The picture is of Adamu and is taken from MTN Football. From my point of view, the most interesting newcomer is Charles Ikenna, a promising midfielder that featured for Enyimba FC and Heartland FC last season. Oliver Nsidibe, an attacking midfielder signed from Lobi Stars FC, also looks promising.

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