The NPFL Super 6 kicks off on Tuesday with what looks like pontentially the most entertaining game of the opening match day as two former champions of the NPFL trade tackles in the opening match by 3pm at the Agege stadium.
It will be followed by another enterprising game between the two teams that finished in the top two places in the group B of the regular season by 5pm while FC Ifeanyi Ubah will hope to start on a good note as they face defending Champions Lobi Stars under floodlights.
ENYIMBA V RANGERS – 3 PM
Definitely the pick of the opening day fixture as the two teams have 14 league titles between them, 7 on each sides even though Enyimba won all 7 titles after the turn of the new millennium while Rangers league win in 2016 after 32 years remains their only title within that time.
However, that doesn’t diminish the pedigree of the Oriental derby, with both teams having met twice this season and on both occasions, each team emerged victorious on individual home grounds, this sets up for an interesting clash at the neutral ground where they will both have a fair share of supporters being two of the league’s most successful sides.
For Enyimba they have two players who will feel at home in the game as well as all through the tournament in the nature of Stanley Okorom and Chukwuka Onuwa, both played for MFM before their move to Aba.
Although Rangers do not have such advantage, they can bank on stand out players like Godwin Aguda, Micheal Uchebo and Seka Pascal to deliver the goods.
Player To Watch
Ifeanyi Aneamena (Enyimba)
After letting star player, Mfon Udoh leave before the start of the season, Enyimba were without a big player who can change the tide of games. However in Ifeanyi Aneamena, they have a defender who can be a fortress at the back and a source of goal going forward. The 27-year old scored 6 goals for the people’s elephant in the regular season including a brace in this same fixture played in Aba which ended 3-1 in Enyimba’s favor.
KANO PILLARS V AKWA UNITED – 5 PM
This is the third time this fixture will happen this season after both teams faced off in regular seasons with Kano Pillars failing to beat the promise keepers on both occasions.
After a 1-1 draw in Kano, Akwa United defeated the Sai Masu Gida 3-0 in the corresponding fixture. This time however, a loss is a result which both teams would want to avoid at all cost.
Although they are yet to win an NPFL title, Akwa United are touted as favorites alongside Rangers having had an excellent regular season after which they had a closed camping in Port Harcourt few days to the start of the competition, Kano Pillars on the other hand have experienced players who were pivotal the last time they lifted the trophy in 2014 very much around with the likes of Gambo Muhammed and Rabiu Ali still in the team.
Even though majority of Kano pillars players are not in anyway young compared to United, they managed a good run to the final of the 2018 Aiteo cup before a Rangers comeback from 3goals down forced a shootout which the flying antelopes won.
Players To Watch
Mfon Udoh (Akwa United)
Expectedly, Lagos fans would be hoping to see the former Enyimba man in action especially after ending the regular season with 10 goals and 4 assists. However, it is left to be seen how much impact the newly wed striker will make on the pitch.
Rabiu Ali (Kano pillars)
The skipper of the Northern clubside is a true definition of what you call “Old but Gold”, despite being well past the age of 35, he still leads the team will decisive performance on the pitch finishing the season with 7goals.
FC IFEANYI UBAH V LOBI STARS – 7 PM
Defending Champions of the NPFL, Lobi stars would face a young and talented but largely inconsistent Ifeanyi Ubah team who barely finished 3rd on the group B standings.
Lobi on the other hand had to shuffle between the continent and the local League but managed to confirm Super 6 spots on the final day of the season.
Due to the abdriged format, this will be both teams’ first meeting this season and the defending Champions are neutrals favorite to nick the win on the night.
Players To Watch
Chinedu Anozie (FC Ifeanyi Ubah)
FC Ifeanyi Ubah goalkeeper Chinedu Anozie heads into the play offs with a record of ten clean sheets in 22 matches just 1 behind Niger tornadoes Mustapha Alike. He will be a strong line of defence which Lobi stars could find hard to crack.
2 Potential Manager To Replace Hansi Flick
Hansi Flick awesome reign with the Bavarian giant is gradually winding down, as it’s looking likely that he may not further manage the Die Roten next season.
Bayern Munich’s quest to win the Champions League consecutively came to end on Tuesday night, via the UEFA’s away goal rules having lost the first leg at home to Paris Saint Germain in the quarter-finals despite being the better side at home.
The Bavarian giant will now focus on league duty and they’re no doubt the team in pole position to win the Bundesliga, as the 2020-21 campaign is gradually coasting home with fewer games left to be played. In that regard, there is a great need for Die Roten to start preparing for next season administration and coaching wise.
The friction relationship between Hansi Flick and the Sports Director has broken down to such as extent that the manager has decided to terminate his current contract.
Hansi Flick sent shock waves through German football on Saturday after a 3-2 win over Wolfburg which keeps the Bavarian in pole position to retain the league title. Hansi Flick issued a statement about his decision to exit when the current campaign draws to a close.
“I told the team today that I informed the club during the week, after the game in Paris, I would like to terminate my contract at the end of the season.
“It was important to me that the team learn this from me because there was already a lot of hallway rumours going around.
“We’ve done a great job together for almost two years. I’m absolutely impressed with this team, their quality and their attitude.”
He added: “I also want to thank the club that gave me the chance to manage this incredible team.
“This decision was not easy for me. I’m a fan of this club. Gerd Müller, Paul Breitner, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge all were childhood idols for me.
“I’m eternally grateful to the club for the chance they gave me to become head coach here.”
It’s quite evident that a new manager would be appointed to pave way for a new rebuild of the team especially with the looming departure of David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Javi Martinez.
Two potential top managers that could succeed Hansi Flick, should he accept Die Mannschaft managerial position.
- Julien Nagelsmann – (RB Leipzig)
Nagelsmann has been rumoured as a possible replacement to succeed not one but many managers in Europe’s top-flight leagues whose future with their respective clubs are not guaranteed. This time around, the 33-year-old has been rumoured to be one of the possible potential managers to succeed Hansi Flick.
It could be argued that Nagelsmann is the tailor-made manager to take over the reins at the Allianz Arena, and there is no doubt RB Leipzig manager would certainly harbour the dream of managing one of the biggest clubs in Europe.
Nagelsmann is presently focusing on the job at hand with RB Leipzig, plus the fact that he’s still under contract with his employers until the end of the 2022-23 season.
With RB Leipzig and Nagelsmann flying high in the Bundesliga in terms of team performances, with next season European football spot already secured, the club’s Executive Director Oliver Mintzlaff may consider letting him leave to join their rival.
However, it’s left to be seen how things would shape up at the end of the campaign.
READ ALSO: 10 Managers Currently Managing Former Clubs
- Jurgen Klopp – (Liverpool)
The relationship the German tactician has achieved thus far with Liverpool started in 2015 when he joined the Kop from Borussia Dortmund, since then he has achieved quite an incredible success with the Reds winning their first league title after thirty years and a Champions League triumph.
Liverpool were eliminated early in both domestic cup competitions and failed to progress past the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and it’s quite impossible to say that the Kop will defend their title with their current epileptic form in the Premier League especially when it’s looking done and dusted that the cityzen would clinch the title.
Having used close to six years with Liverpool since he joined the Anfield side, this could be the perfect time for the former Borussia Dortmund manager to take up a new challenge. However, despite Liverpool’s unpalatable 2020-21 campaign, the German has often reiterated that he is in no way finished at Liverpool, despite been link to the Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft managerial position.
Given his incredible success with BVB, it’s quite evident that he would one day go on to manage either Die Roten or Die Mannschaft. Should Bayern secure the service of Klopp, he would certainly be the right and wise choice for the Bavarian giant.
At the end of the campaign, there would be a breath of fresh air in the Bavarian giant camp, with the new CEO Oliver Kahn taking the mantle of leadership from Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. In that sense, it’s left to be seen if the incoming leader would sanction the appointment of a new manager or stick with Hansi Flick. Only time would tell.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.