Completesportsnigeria.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU has been digging deep in the camp of six-time Nigerian Premier League champions, Enyimba International. He unearths five factors that make the People’s Elephant tick and favoured to win their seventh league title this term…
1. THE EXPERIENCE OF KADIRI IKHANA
Ikhana is perhaps one of the most experienced and best coaches in the Glo Premier League today and Enyimba will no doubt benefit from his tactical acumen and experience at this crucial period of the campaign.
The 63-year old gaffer led Enyimba to win the elusive CAF Champions League title in 2003 and was also in charge when Kano Pillars won their maiden league title in 2008.
Ikhana has galvanised his charges well after a poor start to the campaign which saw them exit the CAF Champions League at the early stage and also failed to pick a win in their opening two games of the season.
It’s difficult to see the People’s Elephant relinquish top position and fail to win a record seventh title with Kawawa, as Ikhana is fondly called in his playing days, orchestrating things from the bench.
2. QUALITY AND EXPERIENCE OF THE SQUAD
Enyimba have quality and experience within their ranks. The likes of captain Chinedu Udoji, Markson Ojobo, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Ugwu Uwadiegwu, Ezekiel Bassey, Andrew Abalogu and other senior members of the squad have endured difficult moments in watching Kano Pillars win the title in the last three years after coming close a number of times.
The experience of those years of near misses could well propel them to avoid a disappointing end to the season.
Also, there is abundance of talents anywhere you turn to in the team. Last season’s top scorer, Mfom Udoh has barely featured for the club this season due to injury and loss of form, but the likes of Christain Obiozor, Musa Najare, Ezekiel Bassey, Ifeanyi George and Andrew Abalogu have all stepped up their game.
3. IMPRESSIVE AWAY RECORD
While their title rivals have struggled to pick points on the road, the the two-time African Champions have performed excellently on their travels.
Kadiri Ikhana’s charges have amassed 17 points on the road, coming from four wins and five draws.
It is difficult to bet against Enyimba not picking more valuable points in their remaining away games against Heartland, Nasarawa United, Abia Warriors and Sunshine Stars before the end of the season.
4. FIVE POINT ADVANTAGE
Enyimba enjoy a five point lead over their closest challenger for the title, Sunshine Stars of Akure, who they play on the final day of the season.
With seven games still to play, this is a massive advantage in this clime and it will take a big effort from any of their rivals to usurp them at the top.
5. RETURN OF ‘TALISMAN’ CHRISTAIN OBIOZOR
The forward has returned to training after spending several weeks out due to injury. The former Rangers hitman scored five goals in his first five games for the Aba based side before copping an injury and is the club’s leading scorer with six goals.
Always a consistent performer, Obiozor’s return to action will add to Enyimba’s firepower upfront, a factor that will no doubt impact positively on their title challenge.