Tiki Taka does not work in Nigerian League and other trending stories

By China Acheru

I had often wondered why Nigerian clubs do not play with any unique style and this is since the last 20 years.

I started watching the Nigerian League in 1981 and I saw a couple of styles. Enugu Rangers’ direct style was as a result of their recruitment policy in the 70s and 80s.

Unless you fell under the exception talent umbrella you had to be at least six feet tall to play for Rangers.

Their style was difficult to come against until the likes of Bendel Insurance and Stationery Stores in the late 70s and early 80s basically disgraced the Enugu warlords and they knew they needed a change.

In the 90s, Lagos based, NEPA FC were known as the Brazilians of the Nigerian League. Coached by Joe Erico, a style he called Jogo Bonito wowed Nigerian league watchers back in the day.

Julius Berger FC in the late 80s and early 90s were known as the Germans because of their difficult to crack defence.

Sharks FC too under Monday Sinclair for many years between 1988 and 1997 played a Barcelona-esque style that was a beauty to watch but in the last two decades, Nigerian clubs hardly turned up with a unique style.

When Manu Garba first signed up for Gombe United in the off season I thought he was going to bring about a revolution in the way our league clubs turn up, something, Imama Amapakabor started at Rangers FC last season.

In the U17 and U20 teams that Manu Garba handled, there was a unique style of play- high pressing, swift passing wing game that wowed every one that watched, so I wondered if he replicate these at Gombe United?

Well, eighteen games later he has been given a three match ultimatum which can only tell that the hierarchy at the club have not enjoyed either the football on display or their position on the log.

I watched Gombe United play against Abia Warriors in Umuahia at the start of the season and the display was a far cry from what we know Manu Garba’s teams have offered in the past.

Was it the quality of the pitch? Maybe the age of the players who could have been too old to learn new tricks? Or could it be he did not have time to instill his philosophy in them?

Whatever the answer is, I know Tiki Taka is not possible, at least not just yet in the Nigerian League. If it was, then Manu Garba’s Gombe United would have done it.

At least no Nigerian club plays an enjoyable passing game just yet. Our football here is just too direct.

Rohr and the Eagles’ list

Just before I posted this article I saw the Eagles’ call ups to the friendly game against Corsica and it first just took my mind back to some words of an old rap by DMX.

I will get to that line in a bit but let me explain.

A lot of people think there is a foreign invasion of the Super Eagles and are not happy it. I do not understand what the fuss is, as long as these “foreigners” are Nigerians and are good enough to play, but some people think differently.

Having said that, I simply do not think Dele Alampasu is Super Eagles’ material.

I just want to be convinced that someone who plays for a 3rd division club, anywhere in the world is good enough for the Eagles. I'm trying hard to be convinced. Yet he has had just two appearances for this 3rd division side since the season kicked off? Rohr and his scouts need to do better.

But maybe the coach is not convinced that the Nigerian League goalkeepers are good enough. He has watched less than five games this season so those whose jobs it is to convince him have not done a good job at it.

Right now he is down to bare bones. The first choice, Carl Ikeme is out injured. Former captain, Vincent Enyeama was due a return but it also out injured and it seems Daniel Akpeyi is not back to full fitness after suffering an injury a few weeks back.

But are the likes of Theophilus Afelokhai and Sunday Rotimi that bad for a “meaningless” friendly game against Corsica?

The midfield seems Nigeria’s strongest point these days as without Mikel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi, there seem to be little fears as Wilfred Ndidi has acquited himself well at Leciester City, John Ogu is a league champion again in Israel and playing well too while Oghenekaro Etebo has recently made a name for himself as the engine room of the team.

But that DMX song again.

I don’t even know the title of the song but it had nice beats and DMX acting all crazy while rapping and a line caught me, “Give a dog a bone, leave a dog alone,”

Nigerians had cried out in the last six weeks that the coach, Rohr had neglected Nigerian League players for what they call a foreign contingent and what did the coach do? He threw a bone at them to keep them quiet, chewing on it.

Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC Ifeanyi Ubah), Ibrahim Alhasan (Akwa United), Sikiru Olatunbosun (MFM) and Stephen Odey (MFM) is more than enough to keep Nigerians quiet while Rohr goes about the business of getting his team for the game against South Africa.

The next argument now is whether these players are good enough to be in the team or if they are just there as a home based quota… yes, give a dog a bone, leave a dog alone.

Nigerians are quiet right now, but when the team lines up against Corsica or when the team for the competitive game against South Africa is named, Nigerians will know if these ones deserved their call ups.

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