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Nigerian Football




BY SAMMY WEJINYA.             

The most experienced head coach in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Stanley Eguma paces across the changing room at the Akure Township Stadium,taking in short shallow breaths of air.

He looked angry.

This was shortly after his charges drew 1-1 against the home side, Sunshine Stars on Wednesday, January 23, 2019.

One would expect the gaffer to wear a satisfied grin on his face after his side claimed a point at one of the most notoriously difficult grounds in the division but there is a frown on his face instead.


“We should have won this game,” Eguma says as he finally settles in a chair looking straight into the eyes of the media chief of the club who had been waiting patiently for a post-match interview to be published on

Such is the competitive fire in Eguma’s belly that even a game of cards is competed for with the intensity of a Cup final.

“I hate making excuses so it’s hard to come to terms with why we failed to win this game.

“We also came close (to winning) our opening game of the season against Niger Tornadoes in Minna but missed three excellent chances in the second half.

“Now, we must get it right against MFM in Port Harcourt in our next game,” he said.


Eguma’s obsession with perfection has seen him set lofty targets for his side this season.

“We want to win everything this season. That is the target.

“I told the boys before we played our first game (of the season against Niger Tornadoes) that the mindset has to be getting a win in Minna, a very difficult place and we almost did it.

“It was the same (mindset) before we faced Sunshine Stars and we were even closer to winning against a very good opponent at a very tough place,” he said.

Putting up a show and going for the jugular


Port Harcourt fans love aesthetic football and have been known to support visiting teams if they produce football that is pleasing to the eyes.

Eguma knows this well and wants his charges to “put up a show” when they face the MFM club on Sunday.

“MFM is currently the best team in our group of the abridged league as they have won their last two games (against Kwara United and Enugu Rangers) after losing to Enyimba in Aba on the opening weekend of the league.

“We know what to expect. We are not going to try to win 1-0. No, that’s not what we want to do.

“We respect MFM FC, we know it will be a hard match but we want to win comprehensively and put up a show because it is our first game of the season.


“We want to entertain our fans.

“It is (going to be) a tricky match because MFM have also done well. 

“Most of our players have never played (competitively in Port Harcourt) before so we have to be at our best for us to win that game.

“It is not a game to toy with because MFM have proven that they are a good side,” he said.

MFM currently occupy top spot in group A of the 2018/19 NPFL season with six points with Rivers United in sixth place after amassing two points. 


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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