STATS TALK: Talking points from Matchday 23

By Ayobami Animasahun

Actions from Matchday 23 of the Nigeria Professional Football League left fans with bitter taste that overshadowed the thrills of some results. Nevertheless, The Statsman has carefully examined the trend of some numbers and events to derive the following talking points from the weekend.

MFM FC on dry land

For a team that once featured attacking talents such as Stephen Odey, Sikiru Olatunbosun, and Emmanuel Chukwuka Onuwa amongst others, breaking down opposition defence and scoring aplenty was a norm. However, the Olukoya Boys are obviously a team undergoing a transition from one era to the other but it seems the new regime is one struggling to get the goals.

Following Sunday’s goalless result against Rangers, the Lagos-based club have failed to score in four consecutive league matches – the longest drought in their NPFL history. Putting things in clearer perspective, MFM have gone six hours, nine minutes without scoring a goal, only Kano Pillars have gone longer this season.

The Olukoya Boys, who are placed 14th on the NPFL standings, will next play away at Warri Wolves where failure to score in the game puts the team on the watchlist – no team that failed to score in five or more consecutive games escaped relegation in the NPFL since Sharks FC (6) in 2012/13.

Auwalu Ali: The fearless Pillar

Kano Pillars came from two goals down to force Lobi Stars to a 2-2 draw in Makurdi on Sunday. This became the second time Sai Masu Gida have needed two goals to come from behind and earn a point on the road this season. The first time being a 2-2 draw away at Sunshine Stars in January. Interestingly, one man accounted for all the required goals on both occasions – Auwalu Ali.

Ali has scored nine goals this campaign, but five of them have come from away matches – most by any player in the league this season. He has grown to become the pillar of Kano Pillars this season, stepping up with vital goals in supposed daunting away grounds.

Adieu Chineme Martins

News of Chineme Martins’ death filtered through Nigerian football sphere on Sunday after Nasarawa United had recorded a 3-0 home win over Katsina United. The defender, who was making his fourth appearance of the season for the Solid Miners, slumped during the course of the match.

Nasarawa United are enduring a difficult 2019/20 NPFL season but the introduction of Martins in recent games has sparked a turnaround in the fortunes of the Lafia-based side. The Solid Miners have a 75% winning percentage with him in a match, and 26% winning percentage without him this season. While Martins’ death remains an emotional challenge for the players, his permanent absence also tasks the team to overcome the poor winning rate and possibly the battle to avoid relegation.