Every year the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season starts with an anticipation of having an improved and better season than the previous one but with the recent issues affecting the whole league, abrupt ending of the league, delayed resumption, crowd violence and poor officiating, it looks like all stakeholders across all boards have a hand in the “one step forward two steps backward” development spiral that the league experiences each time and as such finding a lasting solution may require the involvement of all.
The struggles and political saga of Nigerian football in the year 2018 and its adverse effect on the local league have been very well documented. Across the duration that the power tussle between Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick lasted and into the period of frequent cancellation and postponement of the Super 8 to decide the newly promoted teams into the NPFL 2018/2019 season, a lot of issues affecting the development of league football underground that was before now given little cognizance were brought to the fore.
Apart from the League Management Company (LMC) having it’s fair share of blames for lack of sponsors and indecision in the face of cogent issues which arise from the League week in week out, clubs for their unprofessional way of doing things in a league dubbed “professional”, poor brand management, selfish interest and fans having unwavering flair of sabotage and violence during match games at different match venues contribute to the already numerous canker-worms that eat into the NPFL body.
While applauds must be given to LMC chairman Sheu Dikko and his committee in the way they have steered the ship of the league since their take over years ago, it must be said that despite the initial progress in the early years when the NFF issued the license to organize and regulate the top tier league to them in 2012 for the purpose of organizing and promoting the league to meet global technical and commercial standards, the league has regressed badly in recent years.
From losing the broadcast partnership with Supersport in early 2017 and failing to secure another broadcasting deal to later awarding the rights to Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) in September of the same year, the LMC has continually proceeded to make decisions that plunge the league into deeper problems.
Not only did the NTA deal reveal the reality of the impact and importance of Supersport in beaming the league to the world but it also saw the league move slowly into broadcasting darkness and void with poor picture quality and abysmal broadcast last season to totally being off air all together in the new season.
Another poor decision by the LMC was to allow the league go on break during the 2018 FIFA World Cup when the league had only one player at the world cup in Ikechukwu Ezenwa whose absence would not have made any difference in the league for his team. Moreover, the league could have continued with the world cup on and reached the concluding stages before Giwa/Pinnick brouhaha came to the fore and held all footballing activity to a standstill.
The impact of selfish interest and poor management of Nigerian club sides were clear and evident when a meeting was called against the backdrop of the adverse circumstances in the administration of football in the country, which resulted in the indefinite suspension of the resumption of the (NPFL) leading to huge fixture congestion for both league and cup competitions.
Decisions were made and Lobi Stars were declared the country’s representative in next season’s CAF Champions League, no teams to be relegated and four to be promoted from the NNL and despite the various available alternatives, the decision was made to favour all participants for selfish reason of avoiding relegation and at the detriment of the league.
Promotion playoffs from the Nigeria National League was delayed as NNL clubs held the NPFL and the whole country to ransom in a bid to see all 8 teams in the top two places of all four groups of the NNL promote without playoffs, using the adverse situation experienced in the administration of football in the country to push for their agenda.
If successful, the NNL would have rendered the 2018/2019 NPFL congested with 28 teams although LMC in their own have to share the blame for diverting from the initial playoff plans to promise all 8 teams NPFL promotion without playoffs during a period of indecision and lack of direction by the league body.
However, by the time Nigerian Football Federation stepped into the issue and agreements made to finally play the promotion playoffs, the league kick-off had already been delayed beyond schedule with the LMC reluctant to punish erring clubs, later handing them to a committee to impose disciplinary actions on the 5 clubs who were threatening to pull out, a decision that nothing has been heard or have been done by the said committee since then.
Furthermore, Nigerian club sides are still incompetent in fully utilizing the potentials of social media and proper branding of their teams and players. While a few having been impressive with branding and social media presence like Enyimba, Rivers United, Akwa United, Remo stars just to mention a few, other NPFL clubs have social media handles that are not well utilised in reaching out to fans, yet there are complaints of fans not attending games, contract details are still shady, mass release and recruitment of players are still very much around.
The laughable condition of club medical process uploaded by Katsina United, an image of an unidentified player laying face-up on an unhealthy foam evoked mixed feeling from football fans and analysts — a strong blend of wonder and profound dissatisfaction. The player had the sensory devices snared to his chest but warily wasn’t furnished with a bed with sheets. A big disgrace when compared to what is found in Europe and some other African leagues.
Logistics of players, welfare and payment of salaries need to be well documented and better prepared, Lobi stars despite been considered Nigerian champions in the 2017/2018 season and representatives in the CAF Champions league had a ludicrous logistics arrangements ahead of their away game to ASEC Mimosas with official Club Jerseys left behind while the team travelled to Ivory Coast.
All in all, it will take a lot of work from the LMC and clubs to bring a bulk of fans who are glued to English Premier League and other European football league craze back to the stadia where provision of security is poorly handled in some match centres or totally unavailable as seen in Plateau United on Matchday 1 of the new season where the pitch encroached and the referee beaten. Painfully enough the LMC acts like a toothless Lion which roars but never pounce, while banishing Plateau United can be commended coupled with the fines, it may be worthy of note that the league body will not follow up to ensure the team pays the fines as the banishment to Ilorin for the next few home games will be the punishment served by the team.
Unfortunately, the clubs involved would do little to ensure the culprit is brought to book, neither will they put up measures to avoid a repeat of such scenarios, that is why Remo stars should be commended for actively condemning the violence against the referee in their 1-1 draw against Insurance on Sunday with several social media messages and ensuring they provided the culprit to the security agencies on ground. LMC up until the time of filling this write up is yet to comment on the issue.
Publicity of the games by the clubs is sometimes none existent if the job done by the Nigerian media is subtracted. Poor officiating from referees is still raising it’s ugly head despite the 5 years ban of match officials if found guilty agreed upon by the LMC and NPFL clubs before the season starts.
However, the LMC needs to find a lasting solution to tackling crowd violence beyond fines and banishments of teams also they need to be proactive and ensure that punishments are served latest 24hrs to teams whose fans and officials go against the rules of the league. The Nigerian Referee Association also need to contribute its quota in reducing poor officiating from its officials, although it must be said that poor officiating under no circumstances justifies crowd violence against any match officials.
If the above is solved, then violence in stadiums can be treated with sensitization of fans, a new TV deal needs to be agreed upon as soon as possible as this will enlighten and bring the league closer to the locals and as the LMC continue to work out on ways to move the league forward. The NPFL will definitely move forward albeit slowly, as it is popularly said all hands must be on deck and with the issues facing the Nigeria Professional Football League, LMC’s hands alone are not enough.
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.
Top 10 Football Dribblers Of All Time
The beautiful game of football is arguably the only sport that entertains its fans with the opportunity to witness a genuine instance of sheer genius with a series of beautiful nutmegs. The display of skills, footwork, eye-catching dribbles by different players makes the game more entertaining.
A lot of players around the world can dribble, go past a defender with a single flick and pace. However, good dribblers can be considered as one of the most important key players of a team, as they can unlock any kind of defense.
There are tons of Football dribblers, but only the best have made it onto the CheapGoals list.
10. Roberto Rivelino
Rivelino’s magic with the ball was unbelievable, doing things nobody ever has or will do on a football pitch, and also had a quality of certainty about himself when he was on the ball.
He would not only wind past his opponents but also mortify them and smash defenders’ confidence. Sudden speeding up, various body bluffs would see him outfox defenders on numerous occasions, as some would say Garrincha made the ball talk to his feet.
Other than being authoritatively one of the best footballers to ever graced the beautiful game and lived with three World Cup medals, this iconic Brazilian player was incredible at dribbling. Being able to control the ball in front of defenders and going past them with ease and confidence is something an aspiring footballer would dream of.
8. George Best
Undoubtedly one of England’s greatest players, having scored 137 goals in 361 appearances for Manchester United in a career that spread over more than a decade for the Red Devils. He had the confidence to make use of the ball within and outside of his boot so well that he could cut around players quickly and easily.
De Lima is known for dribbling past defenders and after that going ahead to score a goal. only a few players have aced the popular ‘step over’ dribble as Ronaldo always proved to be a match-winner time over time with his solo dribbles.
6. Johan Cruyff
One of Cruyff’s best abilities was that he had the ability to recognize any weakness and shortcoming in a defender. Like De-lima, he had a move named after him called “The Cruyff Turn”. It would appear as though he was passing the ball to a teammate but instead to kick the ball, he would turn 90 degrees and drag the ball within his foot behind his back leg. This sudden 90-degree move always left the opponent over to the cleaners.
Talking about football dribblers, Garrincha compared to Pele was generally viewed as the best dribbler ever. His extraordinary speed combined with his stunning ball control always leaves defenders powerless, and unfit to deal with his mesmerizing dribbles. At just 5ft 6inches Garrincha’s low center of gravity helped him weave around opponents effortlessly.
4. Diego Maradona
Maradona uses a style of dribbling called “Gambetta” in which he would use his body position to trick into going the wrong way.
Maradona is an impudent, supreme football dribbler – who uses his small stature to make an extraordinary impact which made him one of the best dribblers in football. His strength and control made it difficult to knock him off the ball.
Considered by many as a standout amongst one of the most skillful players in football, he was commended for his abilities and inventiveness. only if his prime had lasted longer, he may very well have been crowned with Ballon d’Or but Okocha is one of the best football dribblers. Be that as it may, it always a joy to watch the Nigerian dazzle on the football pitch.
The former PSG forward and Brazil legend came into the limelight amid his time with Barcelona scoring 70 goals in 145 caps for the club. Dinho brought his mesmerizing pattern of football from the streets of Brazil onto the world stage, and defenders couldn’t deal with his skills and frills.
Every little thing about him appeared to be so superb. From his sly bluffs to his sudden change in increasing speed, all that he did was accompanied by a smile all over his face. His most popular trick was ‘Snake Bite’ where he would trick defenders by pushing the ball sideways, however, all of a sudden pulling the ball back the other way. He is considered one of the best football dribblers.
Having for all intents and purposes wins everything minus a World Cup, the four-time Balon d’Or winner is magnificently unstoppable on his day. The Barcelona forward has scored lots of stunning goals, beating three, four, even five players before firing it in the back of the net.
Mathias Sindelar, Zinedine Zidane, Micheal Laudrup, Adama Toure, Magico Gonzalez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Ariel Ortega, Eden Hazard,Dennis Bergkamp.
This is CheapGoal’s top 10 football dribblers, if any of our loving readers feel otherwise or have their preferred special list, pls don’t hesitate to drop and comment…