- Published on Friday, 16 December 2016 07:43
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By Fisayo Dairo
The NPFL Super4 tournament organized by the League Management Company ended last Sunday in Enugu with the two CAF Champions League hopefuls Rangers and Rivers United (the eventual winners) finishing top of the pile.
Effectively, the two teams that will be flying Nigeria's flag at the Confederation Cup next year trailed their Champions League counterparts in virtually all aspect of the competition, somewhat true reflection of the final standing.
Since the tournament was expected to serve as a good means of mental and physical test prior to their continental assaults, it can be averred that this purpose was well accomplished.
The Shinning lights
Since Wikki Tourists finished 3rd at the end of the competition, a better finish than their fellow Confederation Cup hopefuls FC Ifeanyiubah, it is expected that they have more things to be hoped on from the tournament.
Tourists returnee striker Shammah Tanze was a delight to watch in his lone striking position for the Mohammed Baba Ganaru tutored side. He scored in the team's solitary win of the tournament but his pace, footwork and hold-up play gave fans of the Bauchi state side something to hope on.
Also shinning for Wikki was dazzling winger Richard Jonathan who was a lively substitute in all their three games while Jonathan Zikiye's capture from Kano Pillars makes the left back position a covered area for the team as he will do battle with Christopher Waziri in that role.
It was not a competition to remember for Ifeanyiubah who suffered two losses (to Wikki and Rivers United) upon which their Japanese coach, Kenichi Yatsuhashi departed in a not too pleasant way. Asides consoling themselves with the Spoiler job they did on Rangers in the final day, there were also a few shinning lights for the Anambra Warriors.
Fans of Ifeanyiubah will be encouraged by the performances of new signings King Osanga and Yaya Soumaila Kone at that tournament. Osanga was a torment for defenders while Yaya added composure to his solitary goal in the competition.
In their last game against Rangers, FC Ifeanyiubah showed some sort of character that was evident in their hot chase for a continental ticket in the run-in to the end of last season. Perhaps the inclusion of stars like Tamen Medrano, Kojo Baah and Wasiu Jimoh helped the team in no small measure.
Going forward, the Anambra Warriors must arrest the growing uncertainties surrounding its technical crew and players with which they intend to prosecute next season. It is no longer business as usual as the team will be involved in quite a lot of travels both domestically and across borders. Any form of uncertainty will be a significant cog in their wheel.
It must also be said that FC Ifeanyiubah were understandably the least prepared of the four teams at the Super4. This can be attributed to the prolonged delay in the Federation Cup final which they won. The match took place on November 6, over a month after the league ended (October 2). This meant that their competitors resumed camp early November when they were just going on break. It is now expedient that they use the Christmas break to cover for the lost period and work hard while the rest might take a temporary break for the festivities.
For Wikki Tourists, one thing that is needed is a rich depth. Situations whereby the team paraded a single goalkeeper - Emeka Nwabulu (the only team to do so) throughout the tournament, the same centre-back pairing (Abdullahi Musa and Nnaemeka Anyanwu) and a lone-man upfront Shammah Tanze left questions in the mouths of observers. What if anything happens to any of these?
While there are the likes of Victor Yakubu, Omo Johnson and a few others on the periphery, it is imperative for Baba Ganaru to enrich his side further either by building full trust in the squad players, afterall majority of them were part of the team that earned them a third place finish last term.
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