When the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) defending champions and an assemblage of the best legs in the league meet, the quality of football should be top notch. Plateau United and CHAN Eagles lived up to the expectations though the game ended 0-0. Here are five talking points.
Baptism of fire for Omoyele
Plateau’s new recruit Tosin Omoyele is going into his first season in the NPFL having emerged top scorer of NNL side Osun United last season in the colours. But he is having a very tough initiation here. The tackles from CHAN Eagles central defence pair of Timothy Danladi and Kalu Orji Okogbue, who replaced injured Olamilekan Adeleye early in the first half, were so hard that the talented lad was restricted to deeper and wide positions. He is getting some inkling to how rough life in the top flight is. But he still caught eyes with his mazy runs. Little wonder he got a loud ovation when he was substituted.
Eneji still needs some touching up
Peter Eneji is a hugely talented boy, no doubt. But the one Plateau United fans call Messi has a lot of rough edges to smoothen up. He featured for Eagles in this tie and twice he failed to play a one-two with Rabiu Ali and Ibrahim Mustapha. He turned away, instead, to the opposition’s advantage. On one occasion, he made a hasty pass across his goal and was lucky the interception didn’t have graver consequences. Many technical details to be attended to. But talent? He has got it in abundance.
It is hard to believe the Eagles only had two training sessions before this game. The core of the team have been together, through the qualifiers and WAFU such that additions hardly affect cohesion. Now, the WAFU Cup experience where the team played five matches is yielding fruits. This should count for something at CHAN.
When will Rabiu slow down?
Pillars missed Rabiu Ali in the day’s first game but he was the fulcrum around whom these Eagles revolved. Passes, footworks, shots and all. He was the oldest on the pitch but easily dictated the pace of the game. Will he ever slow down? Not just Pillars…This CHAN team have been built around the man Sai Masu Gida faithful nicknamed Pele.
Plateau becoming one-dimensional
With a game plan built around throws and set-pieces, Plateau struggled to create goalscoring opportunities in the absence of Daniel Itodo, who is involved with the CHAN Eagles. Ironically, Plateau’s little creative spark comes from Eneji, who is also in the national team. The league champions had their fair share of bright spells but Kennedy Boboye needs to deemphasize on the set-pieces and throws. This is football, not handball. Success comes more with dexterity with the ball at your feet. This team have to find other ways of creating goalscoring opportunities outside the throws and set-pieces. By the way, they have just secured an intelligent forward in Omoyele. That lad doesn’t seem like one who will feast more from throws than passes. He is entirely different from Emeka Umeh.