Stalemate at The Emirates, Massacre at The Bridge 

One moment you are sad about a goalless draw by the team you support. The world turns their arsenal against you highlighting your errors what should have been done. The next moment, you are ecstatic about a massacre across the city. That was my weekend.


Wenger’s 67th birthday party didn’t go as planned at the Emirates. Middlesbrough say back and contained the Gunners who forgot their scoring boots with Ludogorets. Petr Cech and Koscielny made sure the party didn’t turn sour with saves and tackles. The game somewhat emphasized the importance of Cazorla to the Arsenal team. El Neny may not have replicated the Spaniard’s artistic footwork but his partnership with Coquelin was not as exceptional.

Looking at results from across the Premier League, the Gunners can tow the excuse of “fixture clog”. Leicester City were the only team with mid week European action that managed a win over the weekend. It was one that Ahmed Musa would remember in ages as he grabbed his first goal for the Foxes. The Foxes went on to defeat Crystal Palace 3-1.

Tottenham played out a goalless draw with Bournemouth, Manchester City needed a late equalizer from Kelechi Iheanacho to salvage a 1-1 draw against Southampton at the Etihad, and Manchester United…. well… er…. they were hammered by Chelsea. What a reunion for Jose Mourinho. It looks like recent reunions turn out in 4-0 defeats. You can ask Pep on the other side of Manchester.


Wild Conte Jubilation….Humiliation for Mourinho

The table is very tight. The top 3 teams with 20 points are separated by goal difference. The next two teams are just a point off. This is an entertaining season. Are you looking for 89 million pounds?

In Africa, the 2016 CAF Champions League came to an end with Mamelodi Sundowns winning their first ever title. Zamalek won 1-0 but were defeated 3-1 on aggregrate. Congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns. Enyimba’s Mfon Udoh emerged the highest goal scorer with 9 goals.

I leave you with two quotes from the weekend:

“You do it at 1-0, not 4-0”. – Mourinho’s comment to Conte’s jubilation during the humiliation at Stamford Bridge.

“At least you can have a drink on your birthday. When you win you deserve it, when you don’t you need it” – Wenger on the 0-0 draw on his birthday.

That’s the lot for Monday morning. EFL Cup is next tomorrow.



Arsenal: Six Past Ludogorets

Mesut Ozil got a 2nd half hat-trick as Arsenal ran riot over Bulgarian champions, PFC Ludogorets. It was his first ever professional hat-trick and all came within 30 minutes. He joins Theirry Henry, Lord Nicklas Bendtner, Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud as Gunners with Champions League hat-tricks.

It was match-day 3 of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League group stage. Ludog0rets put up a good fight in the first half but were pegged back by a beautiful Alexis Sanchez goal in the 13th minute – a lovely extended chip. Ospina was called to action with about three saves before Theo Walcott rounded the half with a wonderful goal – outside the box.

The second half began with the Ox on fire, springing on to a loose ball in the box to make it 3-0 to the Arsenal. Gibbs cross was not taken care of and the Ox smiled with a goal. Ozil latched unto a wonderful pass from Santi Cazorla to slot home Arsenal’s 4th and his 1st for the night.

The fans had the luxury of watching Lucas Perez for 30 minutes as he came on for Theo Walcott. El Neny also replaced Santi Cazorla who was seen wrapped up on the bench. Injured? Iwobi also came in for Alexis Sanchez.

Lucas Perez was put through on the left and his cross was sent in by Mesut Ozil for his 2nd and Arsenal’s 5th. The duo combined again, from the right this time, to give Arsenal a 6-0 victory at the Emirates. The pace of Lucas Perez must be acknowledged. It is great to see him involved in the last too goals.

The Gunners could have added more misery to the Bulgarians but 6-0 was enough. Ozil got his ball, Koscielny and Mustafi got a clean sheet and the Gunners are top of the group – thanks to a higher goal difference. PSG were 3-0 winners over Basel. They travel to Bulgaria next in the Champions League.

In other Champions League matches, Messi scored thrice as Barcelona defeated Pep’s Manchester City 4-0. It was a game of red cards and defensive errors. Lesson to Pep? Leicester City have 3 wins in 3, Celtic lost at home, Napoli were stunned 2-3 by Besiktas in Naples, Real Madrid had it easy over Legia Warsaw.

Other results can be found at the UEFA official website.

Time to enjoy the 6-0 win.


Let’s Play Catch Up

The files on my table increased exponentially over the weekend. It stole my regular Monday post but it didn’t take away the results and happenings.


Emirates: Arsenal 3-2 Swansea.

The Swans were always going to be a banana skin at the Emirates but two goals from Theo Walcott set the Gunners on a ride to whitewash the visitors. Xhaka’s mistake at the edge of the box gave Swansea a lifeline before the break with Sigurdsson converting.

It was Ozil’s birthday and Alexis provided a beautiful assist for a beautiful volley. There is no better birthday present than scoring. The Gunners let their 2 goal cushion halved later on and Xhaka saw red for his troubles – his 1st for Arsenal.

The Gunners held on for a nervy finish with Walcott failing to grab his hat-trick after Chamberlain came on with his pace. The win took Arsenal to 2nd on table behind Manchester City only on goal difference. The Citizens missed 2 spot kicks and were held 1-1 at home by Everton. Spurs also played out a 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns.

Ibadan: Enyimba 0-1 Nasarawa United.

Enyimba’s hope for a silverware in 2016 ended at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan. A first half penalty gave Nasarawa United a 1-0 victory and passage to the Federation Cup final. The Solid Miners would meet either Crown FC or FC IfeanyiUbah in the final. Although the latter will most likely be in the final.

For Enyimba, it sums up a disappointing season for the Elephants. They failed to progress from their group in the CAF Champions League, finished 10th in the NPFL and failed to reach the final of the Federation Cup.

South Africa: Mamelodi Sundowns 3-0 Zamalek.

The CAF Champions league is all but over unless Sundowns capitulate in the return leg. A 1st leg 3-0 win is almost impossible to overturn.

There was a drab game yester night in the Premier League involving Liverpool and Manchester United. Quite unfortunate in a week of Champions League fixtures.

Sadly, Nigerian footbal lost a defender to the cold hands of death. Izu Joseph, a defender with Shooting Stars, was shot dead by members of the JTF as reported. Despite revealing his Identity card, he was shot again. The shooters even recorded his gasp for live with his phone. Tragedic.



Dust Off the Break

Khama Billiat (R) of Sundowns vies with Ibrahim Sayed of Zamalek


The international break, to some, is a nuisance but to others it is a necessity. Ask Messi and C. Ronaldo. They would love to swap a Champions League medal for that of the World Cup.

It was all about the 2018 World Cup qualification in the just concluded break. Some teams were whitewashed, others scrapped out wins. There were disappointing goalless draws, goals galore and the joy of late late goals. In all of these breaks, every club is bothered about one thing – Injuries. No club would love to have their internationals back with injuries.

Koscielny, Ozil, Mustafi, Ospina, Alexis, Iwobi, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, El neny, Bellerin and Holding were on international duty and you can catch a round up of their activity with their national sides on Hopefully they are rested enough for the weekend.

The weekend is few hours away and Swansea is next. Arsenal have won 5 straight matches in a row – the current longest in the top European leagues. How far can they go? Swansea lost just once in their last 4 visits to the Emirates. Will Alexis be fit enough to start ahead of rested Perez? So many things puzzle me but it is Wenger’s call.

Chelsea vs Leicester City should light up the afternoon of the Premier League on Saturday before the tie at the Emirates, Everton’s visit to Etihad and Tottenham’s visit to the Hawthorns.

In Nigeria, we have little matter of the Federation Cup. Enyimba will play Nasarawa United in Ibadan for a place in the final. It is a last chance for the two teams to win a silverware this season after Rangers went away with the league title. They should face FC IfeanyiUbah – although the NFF is yet to clarify the other semifinal clash between Crown FC and the FC IfeanyiUbah.

The 1st leg of the CAF Champions league kicks off in South Africa this weekend with Mamelodi Sundowns hosting Zamalek of Egypt. Let the better team win.

Club football is back, dust the break off.


Different Strokes for Different Nigerian Teams

It is late post today.


Two Nigerian teams were in action over the weekend and they produced contrasting results. The Flamingoes were knocked out of the FIFA U-17 Women World Cup while the Super Eagles grabbed three points from Zambia in Ndola.


The Flamingoes needed to defeat North Korea by a 2 goal margin but were thrashed 3-0 thus dashing their hopes of qualifying for a 4th consecutive quarter final in the U-17 Women World Cup. With no goals scored and 4 conceded, the ladies ended their worst World Cup campaign ever. It is worrisome that a team that scored 16 goals in the qualifiers could not register one in Jordan. It is time to start preparing for Uruguay 2018.

For us, it’s not about feeling bad. We have taken part in the World Cup and that is a wonderful experience. For most of the players, this was a new experience for them. A new and great experience. Next time, they can be better. – Bala Nkiyu (Flamingoes Coach)

Next month, the Falconets will be in the 2016  FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup next month in Papua New Guinea. Hopefully they redeem the country’s image.

Super Eagles

Nigeria began their 2018 World Cup qualifiers campaign with a 2-1 victory over Zambia in Ndola. Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi opened scoring in the 33rd minute before Kelechi Iheanacho added a second in the 42nd minute, thanks to a well laid pass by Brown Ideye who celebrates his birthday today.

It was joyful watching the team put up by Rohr – a youthful side. The Zambians got one back towards the end to put up a nervy finish for the Super Eagles. It was a first win for Nigeria in Zambia and 3 points to begin the campaign. Algeria and Cameroon played out a 1-1 draw in Algiers.

The feeling is good and the Eagles are back to the country with November 9 on their mind. The Algerian Foxes have to fall in Uyo. Enjoy the feeling while it lasts.

What about the Falcons? I hear the recent invitation was limited to only 8 foreign based ladies. Not good. Financial issues?


WCQ: Will It Rain in Ndola? 

Eagles in Ndola (via @NGSuperEagles)

The heavens were opened in the early hours of the morning and the rains have been on a steady downpour. It is a lazy morning to leave your bed and blanket with the sound of the rains filtering through your window or battering your roof.

It is the international break and the 2018 World Cup qualifiers are on in every continent and maybe in space – who knows. There have been goals across board but will there be goals in Ndola.

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi have travelled with the Super Eagles of Nigeria to face Zambia in Ndola. It is the 1st of the last phase of qualifiers and Rohr’s first game in charge. Kelechi Iheanacho’s 77th minute goal gave Nigeria a 1-0 win over Tanzania in Rohr’s 1st game.

Records from previous meetings are in Nigeria’s favour with 5 wins and 4 draws in 12 competitive meetings. Can the Super Eagles get their 1st victory in Zambia? Three consecutive wins puts Nigeria in a good mood – although 2 of those 3 were friendly games. 

Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo and Isaac Success missed out of team. They may not be missed if Iheanacho and Obaje fill up the shoes properly. Irrespective of who starts or plays, a draw should be the worst of results from Ndola. Algeria and Cameroon will be tougher.

I would love the rains to fall in Ndola – i mean goals. But Ekong and Emeruo will do well to keep the rains away from Ikeme. Mikel and his midfield gang should channel the rains to the Chipolopolo side. 

Will Iwobi score his first international goal? Will Iheanacho score in the 77th minute again? Will Musa come to the party? He has not scored since a 2-0 friendly win over Niger in Port Harcourt in September 2015.


Silence and Stillness

And He said, “Let there be silence” and there was a goal.


There comes a time in a football match that there is a loud silence that comes after a major event – mostly a goal, especially a late one. A few may not be associated with a goal but a life or career threatening occurrence like the silence at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium when Ifeanyi Egwim got injured. The referee’s countenance said it all; the Team Manager needed to cover his face to avoid the tears attempting to escape his eyes. The players were pensive and it was like they had seen a ghost.

After then, there was silence.

The Cathedral was electrifying and the vibration was enormous. The injury watered the atmosphere. You could read the worry on everyone’s face including the opposition.

A different shade of silence.

Same day in Jos and Agege, too many things were happening at the same time. Red cards and missed penalty in Agege, it was dicey. A cancelled goal in Jos meant the game was not completed. Some party say Heartland walked out, others say the game was interrupted by the fans. I would believe the former but I am more worried about the relative silence from the LMC.

But then again the NPFL Table and result on the LMC site indicates that the match has been concluded as a 1-1 draw. The fans will love any kind of official memo to the incident especially seeing that it was initially reported as abandoned. For now it is just silence. MFM FC can be merry but Warri is thrown to grave silence. A team that finished 2nd the previous year will now play in the NNL next year.

Repetitive Silence and Stillness.

The last three Federation Cup matches failed to reach 90 minutes with incidents like questionable officiating, teams walking out and fans encroachment all as a result of a goal that was scored or not counted. No official memo yet from the glass house. Nothing from the NFF. Will the silence continue in the next Federation Cup. Can we call it Copa de Silence?

Break the silence.




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