YourSportsMemo, www.aclsports.com rounds off our coverage of the Nigeria National League (NNL) Super Eight playoffs in Aba with our selection of the Team of the tournament.
Our Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo saw all thirteen games at the Enyimba Stadium and brings us a selection of eighteen (18) players including eleven starters and seven on the bench in the team of the tournament. The list includes some very familiar names on the domestic scene and some relatively new ones.
Here is the breakdown:
1. Emmanuel Fabiyi (Remo Stars): The experienced goalkeeper was one main reason Remo Stars earned promotion. His performance against his former club 3SC attracted an emotional hug from his coach Fatai Osho who thanked him whole-heartedly. “O se, o se, God bless you, o se gan” Osho repeated as he buried Fabiyi in his embrace after the 3-0 win. Fabiyi also made three good saves against Delta Force to win the game for Remo.
2. Taye Muritala (Shooting Stars): The right back was impressive for his side throughout the tournament with his bubbling runs down his flank and a solid defensive showing.
3. Umar Mohammed (Kada City): The left back showed why he has been courted several times by Kano Pillars. He drew similarities with Plateau’s Gabriel Wassa not only because of their head-shapes but also the fearless overlapping run down the left which saw him scoring once in his four outings in Aba.
4. Kingsley Onovo (Insurance): Quietly becoming a veteran in the game. Onovo’s dexterity and discipline in central midfield was pivotal for Insurance in the competition.
5. Mansur Saleh (Real Stars): Despite not earning promotion, Real Stars did well at the tournament and their captain, Saleh caught many eyes with his composure and confidence at centre back.
6. Daniel Johnson (Insurance): Johnson was enormous for Insurance as they kept three clean sheets in the group stage. The height of his performance was against Remo Stars when he practically pocketed Victor Mbaoma all day. He was absent in the final and Insurance conceded. He was that crucial.
7. Gbolahan Mustapha (Remo Stars): The pint sized nimble-footed winger was a thorn in the flesh of left sided defenders in Aba. He was notably menacing in their first and last group games and capped his tournament with two assists, including the one for Victor Mbaoma against Delta Force.
8. Joseph Onoja (Gombe United): Joseph was Ladan Bosso’s architect. He scored the first and fastest goal of the tournament against Kogi United and was certainly one of the best players for his side as they secured their return to the top flight.
9. Kabiru Sanusi (Kada City): Arguably one of the oldest players of the tournament. Sanusi emerged the tournament’s top scorer with three goals. A sublime free kick, an efficient spot kick and a goal-poacher’s effort in the final summarised the sort of tournament he had.
10. Ayobami Junior (Shooting Stars): The 3SC captain is highly regarded in many corners of Nigerian football and he did enough to enhance his reputation with a stellar show which included a goal and eye-catching displays.
11. Michael Enaruna (Insurance): One of Insurance’s key stars in the competition. A goal and an assist for him was enough to aid his side’s promotion before receiving a red card in the second half of their last group game.
12. Shola Sheshere (Kogi United): Countless top class saves by the Kogi goalkeeper earned him a spot on the bench.
13. Alhassan Yusuf (Gombe United): This Gombe captain narrowly edged Kada’s Solomon Kantoma to earn a place on the bench. Had a steadily good tournament.
14. Emmanuel Uangboje (Insurance): Insurance’s super sub. Always coming on before the 60th minute in the group games but started the final. Scored two goals in the competition.
15. Opeoluwa Olufemi (Shooting Stars): A very confident and efficient winger who had a goal to show for his good performances in the tournament. Also showed his versatility by playing in central midfield in second half of their last group game against Insurance.
16. Abdulsalam Abdulsalam (Real Stars): Real Stars’ Number 7. Very good on the left flank where he cut in at will to create opportunities for his side.
17. Ibrahim Enesi (Kogi United): Two goals in three games was not a bad return for this Kogi star whose stock keeps rising everyday.
18. Adamu Muhammed (Gombe United): The ageless one scored the winning goal in the decisive game against Real Stars and showed why Ladan Bosso trusts him, a lot.
Coacb: Monday Odigie (Bendel Insurance)