Enugu Ranger’s record of being the only top club never to have been relegated from the top flight might be thrown to the trash can soon. As it stands for the ‘Antelopes’ in the NPFL this season, the narratives of that bragging record could change as they’re currently swimming conveniently in the relegation waters.
The jinx of not winning the League since the last time Rangers International of Enugu won the League in 1984, was broken and thrown away in 2016 when they won the League.
After the struggled in the 2015 season which nearly saw them relegated, fortunately, Coach Imama Amapakabo led side turned things around for the team and they went on to win the 2016 Nigeria Professional Football League, their first championship since 1984, the first in 32 years.
However, within that one year of success, landing their first title in 32 years, the club hasn’t been able to replicate that form which they enjoyed under the tutelage of Imama Amapakabo, which led to them struggling in the league the following season, finishing 14th on the table.
Without mincing words, the fact still remains that Rangers is still one of the elite clubs in Nigeria, how things have fallen apart for them since they last won the league is something very worrying, which also led to their poor form in the league in the season that preceded which they finished 14th on the log, and also ended up in 10th position in the 2017 NPFL season.
Since their last silverware in 2016, things didn’t work out well for Amapakabo’s Rangers but was fired following a string of poor results the following season. Whether the club survives the trouble time or goes down with it, this will count as one of the most humiliating periods in their history, as their form both at home and on the continent is very shambolic.
Meanwhile, let take a look at the major downturn in fortunes for the Flying Antelopes.
The word success doesn’t just happen by mistake to any football club, it comes to the fall with constant preparation, dedication and of course a lot of consistency in whatever they set out to achieve, can we say in the case of Enugu Rangers it wasn’t so.
Aftermath of Rangers triumph in the NPFL in 2016, The Flying Antelopes were ready to continue the sweet union that won them the league with Amapakabo, but things turned sour for them, as results weren’t going their way as expected, which led to the sacking of Imama Amapakabo, perhaps if they had given him little time, the results could come up gradually.
During the debacle between Amapakabo and his employer, his assistant Chukwuma Agbo took over and he became the head coach of the team, despite taking over the results didn’t change or seem better than his predecessor, unfortunately, the coach passed on with another manager replacing him and Rangers ended the season in 14th position.
The poor run results persisted for Rangers the following season under a new manager, and he also couldn’t take them to the land of honey, as Rangers finished 10th on the league standings.
However, had it being that coach Imama was given enough time, perhaps Rangers could have seen some a bit of change in the team, and since then they’ve been hopping from one coach to another.
It’s no news that majority of clubs in Nigeria are owned by the state government, same as how Enugu Rangers is own by Enugu state government, and for a fact they’re neither in the top-ranked revenue-generating states in the country nor among the top receivers of federal government allocations which can be used to cater for the club.
However, irrespective of their status as one of the elite club in Nigerian football, Rangers have not been given the attention their status deserves by the state governments in other to take them to the next level since the state government can’t hand over the club to a private investor.
A big testament to why the club hasn’t been active or failing to compete in the transfer market, depending mainly on past success to attract players to the club, however, some were quick to join, but as things get tough and rough for the team they couldn’t bear it as players were owed wages and match allowances.
Even during the glorious time of Amapakabo, and after Agbo took over from him, players were owed salaries, and at some point, they had to boycott training, in other to force their salaries out from their employers.
Poor Players Recruitment
The last time the Flying Antelopes had young and very enterprising players were under the leadership of general manager Davidson Owumi, also between 2000 and 2007, Rangers had quite interesting outing at home and on the continent, as they played in 3 FA Cup Finals, got to the CAF Cup semifinals, and played in the Champions League in 2006 and 2013.
During all of this period, Enugu Rangers were able to administer lean resources, coupled with an eye to spot talents with the help of coach Lawrence Akpokona, who help in picking young, unknown talent and grooming them into stars for the team.
However, in recent years, that recourse to young talent has dwindled and Ranger’s style of recruitment has taken a poor dimension which affected the team in many ways.
Even during Imama’s reign, he alluded to the fact that he needed more resources to beef up the strength of the team, which he never got in the team, yet still went on to win the league.
We can’t overemphasize how politics affect our league, Rangers and the management ain’t a saint when it comes to internal politics, and it affects the development of the club. The politics wield a remarkably strong influence on how the club is being run, even the ownership, and the fans.
The influence of internal politics has led to a constant battle between old and new management, which raised it’s head during Imama Amapakabo’s reign when he won the league with new management empowered to assert their own authority, while the old was pushing back to remain relevant with the board.
The last time Enugu Rangers were involved on the continent and they performed brilliantly was under Davidson Owumi who was the general manager and Lawrence Akpokona, since then things had being porous for the Enugu based club.
Since Davidson Owumi’s reign, all the boards of management that have come in all failed to build on the success and template of Owumi, most importantly how politics stepped in and affect the team’s success up till today.
However, if the management could do away with all of this, perhaps we might see a brilliant Rangers doing well on the continent and on the home front, but then its left to be seen how this season will turn out for them as they currently languish in the bottom log of the league.
FIFA Congress To Decide Future Host Of FIFA Women’s World Cup™
Council assigns FIFA Women’s World Cup™ hosting decision to the football governing body’s Congress; also approves financial statements for 2020 and budget for 2022.
Meeting by video conference, the Council conferred to the Congress the decision to award Women’s World Cup™ hosting rights.
Until now, the decision has been taken by the FIFA Council, most recently in June 2020 when the hosting rights for the 2023 edition were awarded to Australia and New Zealand.
As the football governing body seeks to raise the profile of the women’s game, this represents a significant step to bring the Women’s World Cup in line with the flagship men’s competition.
The proposal will be put forward for a final decision by the 71st FIFA Congress, which will meet virtually (for the second time) on 21 May.
International match calendar and release of players.
The FIFA Council received a report on the international football situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bureau of the Council had extended to April 2021 the temporary amendments to the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players regarding the release of players for international duty, and FIFA, the confederations, and its member associations remain in dialogue with national authorities about exemptions from quarantine rules for national team players.
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The FIFA Council recognized that the highest priority in football is the health of the players, and therefore the discussion around the release of players for international duty must maintain this perspective, especially as the public health situation develops around the world.
2020 financials and 2022 budget
The Council also approved the organization’s Annual Report, which contains the financial statements for 2020 and the budget for 2022.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 focuses on the role played by world football’s governing body in the fight against COVID-19, primarily through the unprecedented COVID-19 Relief Plan, which has made available USD 1.5 billion to support FIFA’s 211 member associations and the confederations through times of financial uncertainty.
The FIFA Annual Report 2020 is available on the official site.
FIFA Arab Cup 2021™
The Council approved the competition regulations for the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, confirming the match schedule and draw procedure for the competition taking place in Qatar from 1 to 18 December this year.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Paul Onuachu: A Victim Of Tactical Deficiency
Ever wondered why Genk forward Paul Onuachu has always been a prolific figure for his club and find it hard to replicate that form with the Super Eagles when invited?
The Nigeria international has been in awesome form for the Blue-White, scoring 26 goals in the Jupiler League this season for Genk, while his scoring prowess at his club has been a contrast to his form with the national team under Gernot Rohr scoring just once in 9 games despite being a top performer at club level.
Ahead of the AFCON qualifier doubleheader against Lesotho and the Benin Republic, Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr named his 23 man list with the inform former Midtjylland forward listed as one of the standby players.
Onuachu’s struggles with the Super Eagles in previous games he featured is quite baffling, considering the excitement that greeted his first appearance with the national team plus the impressive form he’s currently in.
The job of every manager is to find a suitable position or fashion out tactics that would be suitable for their players in other to blend with the team approaches to every match. In Onuachu’s case, he hasn’t been fortunate enough to blend in with Rohr’s tactics. While at club level, Midtjylland plays to his strength.
However, due to Napoli’s players been restricted from traveling, the Genk forward made it through the backdoor to replace Gernot Rohr’s number one forward Victor Osimhen who hasn’t really hit the ground running with the ‘Partenopei‘, but when with the Eagles, he never fails to deliver.
It’s no doubt that the lanky striker has failed to deliver in his previous games, disappointing the ever-demanding Nigerian football enthusiasts with unforgiving backlashes from the fans. However, his prolific prowess with his club suggests otherwise and consistently makes a case for him to be integrated into the team with a different tactical approach that suits his style.
The era of a target man may have been long gone in football due to the advent of new tactics that have brought about a series of changes in the game. With managers preferring to go with a fast, skillful, or makeshift winger- kind of striker, instead of a target man.
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Looking at how Paul Onuachu plays with Genk upfront shows he’s one of the best target men in football, despite been perceived by many as a slow and old-fashioned kind of forward. However, John van den Bromm has been able to carve out a tactic that suits him which has been evident with his prolific form irrespective of his style of play.
Onuachu’s Super Eagle future might be on the knife-edge with Gernot Rohr not finding the right tactics that suit the Genk forward, especially with him not been consider as the go-to man despite his blistering runs of form in Belgium.
In recent times Rohr’s philosophy of vibrant attacking football with an emphasis on passing in the final third which requires the expertise of brilliant players to implement such tactics hasn’t really favored him.
Having a player in the mold of Onuachu gives Rohr another tactical option and an alternative style of play should the initial approach fails to work as expected, but the German tactician hasn’t really taken advantage of what the man could offer with a different opponent.
Onuachu’s presence in the Super Eagles team should be an added advantage in terms of variety when the normal approach of the manager fails. With an in-form striker on the bench, it could prove valuable, but in the former Midtjylland’s case, Gernot Rohr doesn’t seem to see him as a player that has a future with the national team.
Players in the mold of the Nigerian are quite physically imposing as the point man, though they may not offer the team excellent off-the-ball movement in some cases. However, they often find a way to provide an opportunity which the team could utilize when attacking or defending.
Onuachu’s inability to show a good turn of pace and smart footwork may have been one of the deficiencies that are affecting his chances of blending perfectly into the team.
However, the job of a manager is to help players blend in perfectly, and that’s exactly what Gernot Rohr should be doing. Not only for Onuachu but for every other player who are always finding it hard to replicate club form with the National Team.