CLUB NEWS

Mfon Udoh's resurgence key to Enyimba’s title hopes

By Promise Etim

Founded in 1976, Enyimba popularly referred to as the Peoples Elephant is Nigeria’s most successive club, having won: the league title seven times; four Federation Cup trophies and two CAF Champions League titles.

Since winning the league in 2015, the Elephant have struggled to hit the heights in the domestic front, despite parading array of quality players and managers. Recently, the club have been plagued with managerial challenges, with Paul Aigbogun initially drafted in for Kadiri Ikhana, before Gbenga Ogunbote took over the reigns before start of the current campaign. At the moment, the club are yet to grab the rhythm and style employed two years ago.

Aside from the managerial changes, the club have explored various options in a bid to get back on track, with the introduction of some new players to the fold. One of such being Ifeanyi Onuigbo (signed from Heartland FC), who joined midway last campaign, but left for money spinning FC Ifeanyiubah at start of the season. The likes of Abu Azeez and Peter Onyekachi were also drafted in from Warri Wolves and Abia Warriors respectively in 2016, to stimulate the team.

Despite various moves made by the club to reclaim their mojo; one man has been instrumental to their sustenance at the local and continental level. The gentleman is a recurrent decimal in the local front, due to his achievement and growth both at club level. Signed from Akwa United in 2013, Mfon Udoh is unarguable the club’s most outstanding performer in recent years.

The forward remains the record leading scorer of the league with 23 goals in a single season, although his record is currently threatened by the league’s top scorer, Stephen Odey, who has found the back of the net 14 times in the first stanza of the campaign for second-placed MFM FC. Odey’s rumoured move to a European club reportedly fell apart, leaving room for his possible leapfrogging of the goalscoring record, but Mfon's body language portrays the former Akwa United man as one who is bent on winning the league (with Enyimba) than keeping records.

In front of the fans at the club’s adopted home ground (in Calabar), Mfon produced two magic moments that helped Enyimba stroll past his former employers (Akwa United) and the current league champions (Rangers) on Matchdays 7 and 17 respectively.

Mfon got eight of Enyimba’s 18 goals in the first stanza of the season, but missed out of the last two matchdays due to injury. The striker, who has set a personal target of winning the title with the club, was the highest goalscorer in the CAF Champions League in 2016 with nine goals. The feat ensured his listing as one of the nominees for CAF Player of the Year in Africa.

Enyimba parade the best legs upfront in the league, having signed Ibrahim Mustpaha and Chinedu Ohanochom, both from El-Kanemi Warriors, to team up with Christian Obiozor, Chukwude Stephen and Ugochukwu Leonard, but his inert ability to create something out of nothing has helped the former Calabar Rovers man keep his place in the team.

Seven points separate Enyimba and league leaders, Plateau United. The Aba side kick start the second stanza of the campaign with visits to Sagamu (Remo Stars) and Akure (Sunshine Stars), before returning home to face Plateau United.

For Gbenga Ogunbote’s men to reclaim the league title or win a place on the continent, the tenacity of Mfon Udoh will be very key.

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