Mfon Udoh and the curse of the skilled worker. A wager.

Mfon Udoh poses with car he won from League Bloggers Awards last year
By Nduka Orjinmo

A few years back in Aba, I watched Jude Aneke play for Warri Wolves against Enyimba FC. He had signed for the Warri club having finished as highest goal scorer in the league the previous season with Kaduna United-hitting 20goals and setting a new goals-scoring record at that time.

Safe to say he only pitched tent with the Wolves after several moves to sign for Egyptian and Sudanese clubs fell through.

On that evening in Aba, he toiled around all afternoon, largely disinterested in the football around him. He lacked neither the passion nor energy to play football. Aneke had lost his motivation. The skilled worker in him felt his trade should have taken him abroad.

Fast forward just a few years down the ever changing football calendar in Nigeria and an almost similar situation is set to play itself out, in my opinion. Not one to shy from putting money where his mouth is, I am going to place a bet on it. But before you know what I am betting, here is my wager:

Mfon Udoh, record goal scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football league, managed by the League Management Company of Nigeria, won’t score 20(twenty) league goals in the 2015 football season-for avoidance of doubt, that is the 2014/2015 season I believe.

His Wikipedia page describes him as ‘a complete forward who possesses pace, good positioning, natural finishing as well as the ability to provide assists. He is a fox in the box type of player, difficult to stop once in the penalty area’. To be fair to Udoh, he has merited such wealthy praise; 15 goals for Akwa United, 23 for Enyimba in two seasons, marks him out as a real finisher.
But therein lies the rub: I don’t think Mr Udoh can get 20 league goals this season.

I watched him once in 2014 in Kaduna against Kaduna United where his team ran away 0-1 winners. No, Udoh did not score that day, Sokari Kingsley riffled in the game’s only goal from a tight corner.

My opinion of the Nigerian league is one that is brutal and crunchy. More favourable to the defenders than the forward players. You will be hacked, you will be bruised, you will be fouled as a first resort. Goals don’t come easy or cheap, that’s why the record number of goals is 23. For the avoidance of being misunderstood, several other factors that don’t concern this article might be responsible for the low turn-out of goals in the league. I shouldn’t digress.

If memory serves me right, only Victor Ezeji has been able to deliver a consistent return of goals in the local league until he retired. Even he, didn’t cross the 20 goals mark.

It has been difficult, if not almost impossible to really judge the goal scoring prowess of the seemingly top strikers in the league. They have rarely given me the opportunity to ascertain the depth of their skill-set and to wean them of the fluke bottle which I think they suckle from. Even Chikeluba Ofoedu who notched just 11 goals in 2012, had done enough to stamp his CV with a move abroad. We truly have never really known.

But here is an opportunity; record goal scorer, Mfon Udoh whose recent link with a foreign clubside came from Belarus and Egypt is still with Enyimba. More heart-warming is that the local league kicks-off in just about a week. So finally, we might just have a chance to see if a true goals king has been born.

Honestly, I think if he does stay with Enyimba, Mfon would be affected by the curse of the skilled-worker. He would trudge through the football match, heart and soul gone, like Jude Aneke, that evening in Aba.

But because you never know these things in football, which ironically I am so sure of, my bet is $1000 to Mfon Udoh if he scores 20(twenty) league goals in the 2015 season. For the avoidance of doubt, the exchange rate of the naira-dollar, at the point where he gets 20, would be used when converting. I am also very sure he won’t get 15 goals, but if he thinks he can, I would give him $500 at the point when he does. Again, the exchange rate of the naira-dollar at that point would be used.

Quite frankly, I think it’s easier to predict how many league goals he would score than predicting the slide of the naira. And by the way, Wikipedia’s latest offering on Jude Aneke says he now plays his football in Kazakhstan.  
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