As part of our usual top ten list of individuals in the NPFL, today we shift to focus on the defenders in the league. There is a real shortage of genuinely world-class defenders in the Super Eagles team at present and with the NPFL highlighting a number of talents, NPFL, they are a sought-after breed.
Today Cheapgoals.com break down 10 defensive anchors in NPFL, based on criteria of current shape, form and potential abilities.
10. Isiaka Oladuntoye – Enyimba.
The centre back attracted interest from Rivers united and Enyimba FC before settling for the Aba elephants. Though relatively unknown, Isiaka has played for Kwara united and Sunshine stars where he signed from. He is a defender to look out for.
9. Etim Mathew – Rangers
The flying antelope’s vice-captain made the team of the year last season as Rangers lifted the league after 32 years wait. However, he hasn’t had the best of times this season as Rangers sit bottom of the NPFL with 13 points from many games but the centre-back can’t be blamed for their misfortunes in the league and CAF champions league. He was called into the super eagles during the reign of Sunday Oliseh.
8. Chinedu Efugh – Abia warriors
Chinedu was signed from Heartland of Owerri when they went on relegation last season. The defender has NPSL experience as we were also the side’s skipper before the drop. He has been a mainstay in the Abia warriors team so far. He was instrumental as Abia warriors got an away win in Enugu over Rangers in the opening game of the season.
7. Jonathan Zikiye – Wikki tourist
Also an experienced defender in the league having played for the now defunct Dolphins of Port Harcourt as well as Kano pillars, Zikiye plays the left back position and now turns out for Wikki tourist of Bauchi.
6. Solomon Kwambe – Lobi Stars
A former Eagles defender during the days of the Late Stephen Keshi, Kwambe is a right back and was once tipped to stake a claim for the right-back position in the SE.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been inconsistent and it will take a good run of form and consistent world class performance before he could smell a return to the national team.
5. Elisha Golbe – Plateau United
What else do you need from a defender who can score goals?! Elisha has four goals in the NPFL this season for Plateau united the most by any defender in the league and any other United player, as they fight for the top spot and a continental spot next season.
The plateau united captain is a dead ball specialist, explains why he is among the goals.
4. Stanley Okorom – MFM
Stanley plays the Right back position and was a former Golden Eaglets player at the time of Monday Odigie as head coach in 2011 and was discovered during the SHELL/NNPC All Secondary Schools Football Competition playing for Government Secondary School, Owerri, Imo State in 2009 and 2010.
He was was on the brink of a spot on the 21-man list to take part in the Olympics qualifying tournament in Senegal in 2015, only to miss out. He is also a defender who knows how to score goals and was the scorer for MFM in a 1-1 draw away to Wikki in Bauchi some weeks ago.
3. Jamiu Alimi – Kano
The 24 years old former Olympiacos Nicosia of Greece player now plays for Kano pillars, Jamiu has one of the best tackle rates of the 2017 NPFL season and him along veteran Chinedu Udoji an ex-Enyimba defender, has brought balance to the Sai masu Gidan back line.
He is in the B team of the super eagles as well as a former under 20 player.
2. Ernest Governor – ABS
Ernest is a towering defender for the Ilorin based side who are newly promoted and within his short time he has spent, he has been compared to Sergio Ramos by loyal ABS fans due to his goalscoring exploits as a defender, while some see him as a future super eagles player. He formerly turned out for Kogi united and was nominated for the February edition of the league bloggers award.
1. Chinedu Udoji – Kano pillars
A veteran of the Nigerian professional football league, Chinedu Udoji was the former captain of Enyimba FC of Aba where he won the league on several occasions.
The 27-year old has an imposing figure and currently plays for Kano pillars after completing a transfer in the offseason.
Despite his records and performances in the past, many still wonder what he has to do before getting a call up into the super Eagles.
6 Of The Highest Earners In NPFL 2020/21
Who are the highest-paid NPFL players in 2021? The Nigerian League may not possess the financial pulling power of the South African Premier Division or the Egyptian Premier League but there are still some serious earners in NPFL.
The last transfer window in the NPFL was eventful as always; players moved from various clubs to the other with the popular transfers involving Ojo Olorunleke who moved from Sunshine Stars to Abia Warriors.
The duo of Ifeanyi Anaenema and Theophilus Afelokhai also crossed from Enyimba International to Rivers United.
Therefore, a number of the transfer dealings confirmed some of the players mentioned above as the highest earners in the league, at least for the 2020-2021 season.
Here are the Highest Earning Players In The NPFL
- Theophilus Afelokhai – Rivers United ($2,886 = 1.1 M)
The erstwhile Kano Pillars and Enyimba shot-stopper is undoubtedly one of the best in the league and he’s also the highest-paid player in the NPFL currently, following his move from the People’s Elephant last August.
Afelokhai, who joined Rivers United for free revealed in an interview last year that his decision to dump Enyimba was not all about money.
“It is not only about money. I have good relationships with many people there. Like the commissioner (Boma Iyaye) is my boss. Eguma is also my coach from way back, as well as other coaches there.” Afelokhai told nigerianfootballer.com
For the records, the 32-year old was also the highest-earning player at Enyimba before he left last year, and with him in the sticks for Stanley Eguma’s side this season, he has recorded four clean sheets in seven appearances for the Pride of Rivers.
- Ifeanyi Anaemena – Rivers United ($2,361 = 900K)
Here’s another former Enyimba stalwart, Ifeanyi Anaemena. The center back was acquired by Rivers United in August last year having spent six years at Enyimba where he won two NPFL titles, the last of which he lifted as a captain of the Aba Elephants.
Just like Afelokhai, Anaemena also joined Rivers United for free, a move that shocked the Nigerian football fans.
According to the experienced defender, following the expiration of his contract at Enyimba, there was an apparent communication lacuna between himself and the club, an act that was unprofessional being the captain of the club.
“Before now, if Enyimba should be professional, I think they should have renewed my contract before now, and when my contract turned off, I was expecting them to talk to me, as the captain of the team and there was no concrete information from them.”
“So, I think some issues came around that they couldn’t meet up with the target that was set. I had an opportunity with Rivers United, which they had been inviting me before to come and play for them. Coach [Stanley] Eguma called me to come and play for them. I think this was the right time, I just had to move on, and I took up the opportunity.” He revealed to busybuddiesng.com.
He was unveiled alongside Theophilus Afelokhai two days after joining Rivers United where he now earns nine hundred thousand nairas monthly.
- Godwin Aguda – Rivers United ( $2,099 = 800K)
Former Enugu Rangers attacker, Godwin Aguda switched to Rivers United last August and he’s been massive for Stanley Eguma and Rivers United this term.
He pockets a sum of eight hundred thousand naira monthly which makes him the third highest-earning player in the league this season alongside Kano Pillars’ captain, Rabiu Ali, and Akwa United’s duo of Mfon Udoh and Ndifreke Effiong.
- Cyril Olisema, Tosin Omoyele, and Austin Oladapo – Enyimba ($1,837 = 700K)
- Tosin Omoyele
- Austin Oladapo
The fight for supremacy between Enyimba and Rivers United has obviously gone beyond the pitch. We’ve seen the two clubs trade tackles on the continent this season, battling for a place in the group stages of the CAF Confederations Cup – which Enyimba eventually got.
Even in the aspect of which club pays more, there’s a nail-biting contest between the two giants. At Enyimba, the captain, Austin Oladapo, Tosin Omoyele as well as Cyril Olisema are the highest earners in the wake of the exit of Afelokhai and Anaemena.
And while Afelokhai and Anaemena have been instrumental for Rivers so far, the same can be said for the trio of Olisema, Omoyele, and Oladapo at Enyimba.
However, It remains to be seen which club will become the best paying club in the league as we could see a drastic change should another club spend heavily in the next transfer window.
NPFL Crowd Violence – Will There Ever Be An End?
The NPFL has so many problems that are facing it but one problem that has grown to become an uncurbable disease is Insecurity and Crowd Violence ravaging the League. Many incidents of crowd violence have been witnessed in the past, and many lovers of Nigerian Football are worried and are asking questions.
For many years, players and officials have been attacked by fans, and to make matters worse, clubs administrators are now prone to get injured so more so that even an NPFL match had to be suspended for peace and tranquility to reign. The saddening part of it is that it’s either the LMC either ignore this meaningless chaos or give minimal sanctions to perpetrators of this evil.
So far this season, the NPFL has witnessed three major crowd violence and it’s unfortunate that in 2020, as other African nations are developing their football on a daily basis, Nigerians are ranting over insecurity and crowd violence at our various match centers. Truly, the Shehu Dikko led LMC and its officials should cover their faces in shame for not putting up measures to eradicate this humiliating and degrading aspect of the Nigeria Football.
Just when we thought crowd violence will not be witnessed again in the league this season after the fallout between the Fans of Kaduna United and Kano Pillars in January, crowd violence reared it’s ugly head again Abia on Sunday when the two clubs from the state were having their matchday 20 fixture.
According to reports, this brouhaha was bound to happen as the officials of Abia Warriors were denied entry into the stadium but sanity was restored after Enyimba’s chairman (Anyansi-Agu) intervened. But that sanity only lasted for a short while as the fans of the two opposing teams were seen clashing with each other. In the first instant, The referee overlooked the situation but the match was later halted on the orders of the match commissioner.
Scores of people including the Chairman of Enyimba and Emeka Iyama were left injured after the brawl. Agu who only tried to bring about peace amongst the fans was eventually stoned by unknown “fan” and was seen escorted out of the stadium.
Like I’ve once opined, this gorry scenario will continue to erupt at our match centers if some people/clubs are not used as scapegoats. The main reason this is still happening is obviously that the LMC seems to be handling it with levity. Many innocent lives have been lost due to crowd violence in NPFL matches and this does not in any way put Nigeria in a good picture in the faces of the rest of the countries in the world.
Playing matches behind closed doors, points deduction or players’ suspension will not put a lasting solution to this problem. Until a stiffer punishment is meted out to the unscrupulous beings disrupting Nigerian Football, the league will forever remain with the tag of “underdeveloped league” – Will there ever be a stop to this mess?
If There are Solutions, What are They?
Jail Term for every Perpetrator of Violence at Matchcenters.
It’s definitely not enough to slam fines on clubs that her fans have erred; jail term should be added to the punishment given to these evildoers. William Shakespeare once said, “any mercy that forgives a murderer, encourages another murder” in this case, it’s really not a case of a murderer but whatever mercy that forgives an engineer of someone’s wounds, gives room for more of the unfortunate incident to happen.
The current LMC Board Should Be Dissolved
The LMC has proven over time to be incapable of finding solutions to the utmost level of insecurity of players, officials and some fans going to the different match centers in the country. There’s no need for maintaining a failed institution. A change in the hierarchy of the LMC is needed and the time is now!