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.”
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.