CLUB NEWS

At last Luamba finds his groove at FC Ifeanyiubah

The 2016/17 season has been one laden with lots of twists and intrigues, systole and diastole for Nigeria Professional Football League side, FC Ifeanyiubah.

After a heady run in Nigeria's club cup competition (Federation Cup) in 2016 which culminated in the team's first-ever piece of silverware - beating Nasarawa United in a penalty shootout in Lagos in November - expectation was at its peak for what was expected to signal the start of football dominance for the privately owned club based in Anambra.

No sooner had the club clinched the oldest cup competition in Nigeria than their troubles began. The expatriate coach hired for the team, Kenichi Yatsuhashi was fired barely one month into his reign after just two games at the NPFL Super Four Tournament in December before the team got eliminated from the CAF Confederation Cup by Egyptian side Al Masry in mid-February.

The exit of FC Ifeanyiubah from the continental competition brought the team already in a realm of grandiose back to life and battling to start all over again with Ghanaian coach, Yaw Preko trusted to lift the side out of their lowest ebb. That task has been achieved in part with the club placed 8th on the log at the midway stage of the season, seven points adrift of league leaders, Plateau United.

In a season that has seen a lot of turnovers in terms of players used, Congolese midfielder Fabrice Ngoma Luamba has once again shone like a starry light in the midst of the dark clouds as he continues to churn out disciplined and elegant displays for the Nnewi-based side.

The former Sharks XI FC of Congo star who is in his second season in Nigeria told npfl.ng that adaptation to the Nigerian environment was not easy but he is very fine now.

"It was not easy for me when I came here," began the charismatic midfielder.

"The language made it more difficult and the league was more hectic than ours. We play 24 games in Congo, 12 in each half but here it is 19 and 19 (making 38). I was not happy (with the schedule) at first when I came, but now, I am fine."

FC Ifeanyiubah used at least 25 players this season, the most by any side in the Nigerian top flight this season but despite the chop and change in the playing personnel occasioned by poor results on the pitch, Luamba remains a regular for the side - having featured in at least 15 games more than any other FC Ifeanyiubah player. Luamba stated that the number of new players in the team affected their chemistry.

"This season, we have many new players. Many of our players left last season so it was difficult for us to gel with the new ones. But now, we understand when Kone moves, Prince moves, Obaje moves," he said in his spasmodic pidgin-English.

Such is the importance of the Ifeanyiubah number 24 that his vision, passing ability and all round midfield presence have seen him grow to become a fans' favourite at the Ifeanyiubah Stadium, Ozubulu near Nnewi. The towering midfielder still harbours hopes of following up last season's Federation Cup conquest with the league title this year.

"Last season I won the FA (Federation) Cup. This season, I want to win the league if God accepts. Now we're climbing up and I hope we will continue," concluded the former FCMK Kinshasha player.

With the club now on a run of six unbeaten games which includes four victories and two draws, Ngoma Luamba's dreams of getting his hand on the league trophy may not be far-fetched. Highest-paid striker Godwin Obaje is now getting among the goals while another of the foreign legion, Pascal Seka is now hitting the form that made him a menace to defenders last season.

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