Enyimba FC striker Chinonso Okonkwo has urged the club to retain the core of players that played for them in the last Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.
Okonkwo who returned to the club in time for the second half of the season after a brief stint abroad came in handy for his side as they finished third at the end of the season.
Okonkwo featured for Rivers United on loan from the People’s Elephant in 2016 and contributed eight goals as they finished second. He is now grateful for finishing in the top three of Nigerian football for three consecutive seasons.
“I thank God because I left Enyimba on the continental (scene), went to Rivers United, got a continental ticket with them, although I didn’t stay to play with them, I came back to Enyimba and got a continental ticket so I’m very happy for that,” he told www.aclsports.com on Thursday.
Okonkwo scored four goals in the second half of the season as Enyimba made a late surge to overtake favourites for the third spot, Akwa United. He believes the team coach, Gbenga Ogunbote did a good job along with his teammates and can only be better next season.
“The coach (Ogunbote) was fantastic and the players did very well too. I really wish that Enyimba will be able to keep this team because I believe if they keep the team we will do well next season.”
Nigerian clubs playing in continental competions in recent years have struggled to cope with the demands of playing well in the league and continent simultaneously but Okonkwo believes Enyimba’s case can be different next term.
“I think we have what we need to play well in the league and the continent at the same time.
“But you know the season has ended now and you don’t know who will stay and who will not but I believe if we can be able to keep this team, we will do well next season,” he reiterated.
Nigeria’s new league season is expected to commence before the end of 2017 as the League Management Company bids to conform its calendar with the new projected calendar of the Confederation of African Football.