TERRIFIC DOZEN! 12 Standout Players Of 2016/2017 NPFL Season

TERRIFIC DOZEN! 12 Standout Players Of  2016/2017 NPFL Season

Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI takes a look at the Nigeria Professional Football League players who have glamorised the 2016/2017 season so far with their sterling showings.

Stephen Odey: Striker, MFM

Mountain of Fires and Miracles striker Stephen Odey is currently the Nigeria Professional Football League top scorer with 15 goals.

The striker could probably have increased his tally had he not travelled to Denmark to undergo trials at FC Midtjylland.

Odey was recently invited by Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr for the team's camping exercise in France where the Eagles played two friendlies against Corsica Island and Togo. 

Despite the failed trials, Odey could still find himself gaining attention from within and outside the country.

 

Golbe Elisha: Central Defender, Plateau United 

Plateau United captain Golden Elisha has been inspirational for the Nigeria Professional Football League leaders who are five points clear of El Kanemi with 45 points.

The central defender has missed only one game of the 25 the team have played so far (against Sunshine Stars away in Match day 23 which Plateau won 2-1) due to suspension.

Elisha had received his fifth yellow card of the season in the team's previous game against Enyimba of Aba on June 4, 2017 in their Match day 22 game.

Elisha as a central defender has scored five goals and four of those goals have come from direct free kicks.

Ibrahim Muazu Alhassan :  Midfielder, Akwa United

Alhassan Ibrahim seems to be the new poster boy of the Nigeria Professional Football League. The skilful midfielder (alongside FC Ifeanyiubah goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa) made the cut for Nigeria's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa at the Godswill Akpabio stadium.

Both players did not play eventually and not being able to play in fromt of the home fans that adore him must have hurt Alhassan even more.

Alhassan Ibrahim’s sensational hat-trick in a space of sixteen minutes inspired Akwa to a 4-2 victory over Shooting Stars Sports Club 3SC of Ibadan on match day 17 fixture of the Nigeria Professional Football League at the Godswill 

Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo was the highlight of his performance so far.

Mathias Samuel: Striker, El-kanemi Warriors

Before the 2016/2017 season kicked off, not many fans and football experts gave El kanemi the chance to be contesting for the Nigeria Professional Football League title but the goal scoring art of Mathaias Samuel has made it possible.

The striker has scored 11 goals so far and could still score  more before the end of the season. He has earlier set a target of 14 goals at the staert of the season for himself.

Highlight of his performance was the brace he scored against Sunshine Stars in the week 11 clash at the Maiduguri Township Stadium, their home ground where they do not particularly score so much. He also missed a penalty in the game. 

Ayo Saka: Midfielder, Rivers United

Rivers United's Ayo Saka won the maiden VAT Wonder Goal of the Nigeria Professional Football League Match day 20.

Saka won the poll conducted on the website of the NPFL and its twitter handle beating off the challenge of Enyimba's Ugochukwu Leonard and Gombe United's Afolabi Abdulwaheed, with a cumulative vote of 89.5% after picking up 51.5% of the votes cast by fans.

In the match against Nasarawa United, Saka evaded the challenges of two defenders and fired a left footed shot to the roof of the net.

Saka's individual effort was favoured by voters ahead of the 35 yards long range strike by Ugochukwu against Remo Stars at the Shagamu Stadium.

 

Chukwuka Onuwa: Midfielder, MFM

Mountain of Fire and Miracles FC midfielder Chukwuka Onuwa has dazzled in the team's matches and is one of the standout players of the season so far.

The diminutive playmaker has drawn comparisons with two of Nigeria's most skilful midifeld magicians, Austin 'Jay Jay' Okocha and Etim Esin.

The three are not tall, they have superb close control, eye for the wonder pass and they tie their markers in knots with mesmerizing dribbles.

Goal scoring is not his best attribute but Onuwa has nine assists to his credit and is proving to be one of the best attacking midfield dynamites in the Nigeria Professional Football league.

 

Kingsley Eduwo: Striker, Lobi Stars

Lobi Stars forward Kingsley Eduwo was recently named League Bloggers Awards (LBA) Player for the month of May.

Eduwo scored three goals in the month under review. Eduwo scored in Lobi's 1-0 win at Sunshine Stars and got a double against 3SC.

The race for the highest goal scorer is still open and presently Eduwo has scored eight goals for the Makurdi side.

Suraj Ayeleso: Goalkeeper, Nasarawa United)

Nasarawa United goalkeeper is currently the custodian with the most clean sheets in the Nigeria Professional Football League after week 25.

The former Kwara United player is stingy in between the posts and has kept 11 clean sheets already although he is closely followed by Mustapha Aliko (10 clean sheets), Ojo Olorunleke (nine clean sheets), George Michael (eight clean sheets), Dele AjiboyeAgbor Ekoi and Adamu Abubakar (seven clean sheets).

 

Sikiru Olatunbosun: Winger, MFM

MFM winger, Sikiru Olatunbosun, scored what will go down as contender for the goals of the season in their 2-1 win over Enugu Rangers on February 24.

Olatunbosun's 30th minute strike in the match day 10 fixture at the Agege Stadium won him the CNN’s goal of the Week poll.

After collecting a pass, Olatunbosun looped the ball over Rangers captain and right-back Matthew Etim before firing off a fierce shot with his left foot into the top corner.

The clip of the goal has become an internet sensation and was included in the CNN’s Goal of the Week. 82% of the vote went to the MFM FC player beating competition from Radja Nainggolan of Roma, Youri Tielemans of Anderlecht and Joey Jones of Woking FC.

Olatunbosun has scored only five NPFL goals but his predatory instincts cannot be taken for granted as he is likely to score more before the end of the season in July.

Sunday Adetunji: Striker, Abia Warriors

One of the front runers for the highest goal scorers award is Sunday Adetunji.

The former Shooting Stars of Ibadan hit man currently has 11 goals to his credit. 

Adetunji hit the back of the net nine times for the Warriors this season despite missing the opening five fixtures of the season due to registration issues before adding additional two. He probably would have usurped Stephen Odey at the top of the goalscorers' chart.

That speaks volumes of the ability of the front man who scored 10 goals last season.

 

           

Dayo Ojo: Defensive Midfielder, Sunshine Stars

Sunshine Stars' Dayo Ojo is a dynamic player who is adept at playing in defensive and midfield positions. That has been helpful for his team.

The midfielder who showed promise in the youth team of Sunshine previously played in Sudan for Al-Merrikh but his contract was terminated following disagreement over its renewal. 

His former club were willing to welcome back the 'prodigal son' and it was a good decision in the end as he has helped the club out of the drop zone so far. The club are in 17th place in the table 

Since his mid-season transfer back to the Owena Waves, Ojo has scored only one goal but has an interesting statistics on his goal scoring feat for the club-from his previous stint.

Seven of Ojo's last eight NPFL goals for Sunshine Stars (including his previous stint) have come in the second half of matches. 

Mfon Udoh: Striker, Enyimba

The NPFL all-time highest goal scorer with 23 goals in the 2013/2014 season and the first player to score over 35 goals in two consecutive seasons in Nigeria is a 'fox in the box' and has already notched up 10 league goals (alongside Lobi Stars' Anthony Okpotu) for seventh placed Enyimba International of Aba.

With 13 more rounds of matches to be played before the season ends, it is not unthinkable that the goal machine equals or slightly surpass his own record if the other top strikers rest on their laurels.

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