* According to SuperSport, newly-promoted Abia Warriors FC has signed goalkeeper Emmanuel Fabiyi (b. 09.10.1985) from Bayelsa United FC. Fabiyi is a full international player for the Benin Republic. Last season, Chinedu Anozie, Michael Nnanna and Joseph Onuoha shared the goalkeeping duties at the club. Onuoha won the Best Goalkeeper Award after the season. Fabiyi and newly-signed left-back Ogbonnaya Okemmiri (b. 13.06.1986), a member of the Nigeria national beach soccer team, brings experience to an inexperienced squad.
A few foreign players have been training with the club recently, including Ivorian midfielder Marc Olivier Iberson N’Gouan (b. 20.12.1992) and Senegalese centre-back Xavier Abel Pierre Mendy (b. 17.09.1986).
Unless they have been snapped up by bigger clubs during the last couple of months, key players for Abia Warriors FC include striker Chisom Chikatara, the Most Valuable Player of the team last season, defender Austine Obaroakpo, striker Peter Samuel Onyekachi, who has top level experience from Rising Stars FC, and centre-back / defensive midfielder Chima Uluocha (b. 28.07.1992), the captain of the team.
AKWA UNITED FC
* From my point of view, the big question at Akwa United FC is whether left-winger Emem Eduok of Dolphins FC will return to his former club. If so, Eduok will become a key attacking player and could provide crosses for new striker Emeka Akueme. Last season, the 29-year old target man scored 3 goals for Kaduna United FC. The picture is of Akueme, and was found on wafawafa.co.za. Whether he can fill the shoes of top scorer Mfon Udoh (now at Enyimba FC) remains to be seen. Other players that have been strongly linked to Akwa United FC include midfielder Oliver Nsidibe from Kaduna United FC and playmaker Utibe Archibong from Akwa Starlets FC. Archibong scored 10 goals during the Nigeria National League 2012-2013.
Another interesting question is whether Samuel Okon (b. 15.12.1996), who played 7 matches (2 goals) for the Nigeria U-17 national football team during the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, will feature for Akwa United FC in 2014. Okon is primarily a centre-back or left-back.
BAYELSA UNITED FC
* Bayelsa United FC has made several interesting signings for the new season. No less than three quality goalkeepers have been brought to the club; Moses Ocheje (b. 21.05.1988) from Sunshine Stars FC, Japhet Opubo from Nembe City FC and Kazeem Yekeen (b. 28.12.1992) from Kwara United FC. This is not necessarily good news for the talented Gideon Gambo (b. 15.11.1992), last season’s first choice goalkeeper. Opubo won the “Best New Goalkeeper-award” during the 2013 League Bloggers Award, and I hope he won’t be stuck at the bench of Bayelsa United FC. Personally, I think the experienced and commanding Ocheje will be preferred.
Mutiu Adegoke (b. 10.02.1984) is the new left-back at the club, signed from Shooting Stars FC. Brown Braye, who played for Nembe City FC and Sharks FC in 2013, is a new right-back. Samuel Tswanya (b. 19.07.1989), signed from Kano Pillars FC, can play both right-back and left-back Centre-back Gabriel Ikechukwu (b. 20.10.1989), who is part of the Nigeria B national football team for the on-going CHAN tournament, will probably marshal the defence together with Junior Salomon (b. 04.08.1986) from the Benin Republic. I must say that a defence consisting of Ocheje in goal, Adegoke at left-back, Tswanya at right-back and Ikechukwu / Salomon at the centre looks like one of the best in the league.
The midfield has been strengthened by the acquisition of Olufemi Oladapo (b. 05.11.1988) from Shooting Stars FC. Oladapo, a hard-working defensive midfielder, has European experience from IK Start in Norway. Ismaila Suleiman (b. 20.11.1991) from ABS FC is another interesting player. Suleiman has described himself as “a defensive and attacking midfielder with the ability to make forays into my team’s attack”.
Up-front, Ebitimi Agogu (from Nembe City FC) and Kabiru Sanusi (from Kwara United FC) are both proven goalscorers at this level, although none of them impressed in front of goal in 2013 (Agogu: 2 goals, Sanusi: 3 goals). Personally, I think the signing of Sobomabo West (from Nembe City FC) is the most interesting. West did well after having been discovered playing amateur football. Despite the newcomers, I think Peter Ebimobowei (b. 11.11.1993) and Justice Uche Ihuarulam (b. 02.12.1992) will lead the attack in 2014 – just as they did in 2013.
Other signings include Aniyikaye Olamilekan Adeleye and Sherif Basiru (both from Prime FC) and Lucky Edjebare (from Gombe United FC).
The newly-promoted side Crown FC has been rather quiet at the transfer market for the last couple of months. I think the club has signed Benson Omoduku from Bendel Insurance FC, but can not find any other transfer information. In any case, team captain and top striker Daniel Bode will be essential to the success of the team. Other key players include goalkeepers Ayobami Ojo (b. 12.01.1991) and Michael Uweru, defenders Abiodun Akinola, Ali Aliyu and Victor Ikechukwu, midfielder Said Folorunsho and promsing striker Christian Ibeh.