The NPFL with the support of the League Management Company has been improving in recent years, thus attracting some African and South American players to the league.
Cheapgoals.com take a look at ten foreign players in the NPFL this season in no particular order.
10. Paterne Counou (Benin) Defender (Akwa Utd)
The defender has been with Akwa Utd since last year and as a result participated in the 2017 Africa Cup of nations in Gabon with Benin republic.
He has featured consistently for Akwa united this season.
9. Fatau Dauda (Ghanaian) – Goalkeeper (Enyimba FC)
The 31-year old black stars goalkeeper plays for Enyimba FC of aba and has been jostling with Theophilus Afhelokahi for the number one spot this season.
Dauda was in the Ghana national team squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations and was the first choice keeper for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations edition of the tournament.
He was part of the Black Stars at 2008,2013,2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
8. Joseph Douhadji – Togo- Defender- Rivers united.
A mainstay in the pride of port Harcourt defence line. The Togolese defender was one of the three NPFL players to feature in the 2017 Nations Cup alongside fellow countryman, Dounou Konou and Paterne Counou of Beni Republic.
7. Isaac Loute (Benin) Defender (FCIU)
Loute has experience in the NPFL having formerly turned out for Former champions Kano pillars, Gateway united and Lobi stars. He has been capped fully by the Benin national team and currently plays for FcIU In the current NPFL season.
6. Drissa Bamba (Ivory coast) Goalkeeper (FCIU)
Just 23 years old, Ivorian goalkeeper Bamba has displaced Nigerian international Ikechukwu Ezenwa in goal for Ifeanyi Ubah FC although the latter featured in the team’s failed confederations cup attempt.
He kept a clean sheet in a much needed 3-0 win over Remo stars in a match day 8 encounter.
5. Nana Bonsu (Ghana) Goalkeeper (Rangers Intl).
Another goalkeeper, another Ghanaian on the list, Bonsu has played for Ghana at the u17 and international level. He was the flying antelopes first choice goalkeeper before losing his place to Itodo Akor due to an injury. He was voted in February “Rangers’ 12th man” player of the month award for January.
4. Guy Keumian Venance (Ivorian) Striker (Rivers united)
One of the very few strikers on the list, Keumian plays for Rivers united.
He has been instrumental for the pride of port Harcourt this season playing regularly both in the Caf champions league and in the league.
3. Pape Ousmane ( Senegal) Defender(Rangers)
The Senegalese defender was instrumental in Rangers title triumph last season, the 33-year-old was courted with series of controversies in recent times, he has been in and out of the Rangers team this season.
Later in 2015, he signed for FC Ifeanyi Ubah where he currently plays. He scored the only goal in the team’s 1-0 win over Al-Masry of Egypt at the FCIU stadium in Anambra in the Caf confederations cup this year before missing a penalty in the shootout in the return leg in Egypt as the Anambra warriors crashed out on away goals.
2. Alberico Da Silva (Brazilian) – midfielder (Ifeanyi Ubah)
Da silva is the first Brazilian to score in the NPFL and he is the first non-African to score in any west African top flight league. Also known as Barbosa, he arrived Nigeria as part of the foreign imports alongside compatriots Maxwell silva and other Brazilians and Africans in the Fc Ifeanyi Ubah team in 2016.
Da silva hasn’t rest this current season as he has the highest assist in the FCIU team in the league this season.
1. Medrano Tamen (Cameroonian) – Midfielder (Ifeanyi Ubah FC)
Josue Tamen Medrano Ngathie isn’t a novice in the NPFL as he formerly played for Sunshine Stars FC. of Akure between 2010 and 2015.
Later in 2015, he signed for FC Ifeanyi Ubah where he currently plays. He scored the only goal in the team’s 1-0 win over Al-Masry of Egypt at the FCIU stadium in Anambra in the Caf confederations cup this year before missing a penalty in the shootout in the return leg in Egypt as the Anambra warriors crashed out on penalties.
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.
READ ALSO: Super Eagles: 9 Players Who Netted On Debut
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.
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.