EPL TEAM OF THE WEEKEND (30/03/14)

 

 

Following an exciting English Premier League weekend, we have carefully chosen our best XI. Do you agree or disagree with the panel? Let’s hear from you via the comment section of this page or via twitter -@halftimeng. Using a 4-1-3-2 formation, here it is. Thank you.2014-03-30-EPL-TOTW

Using a 4-1-3-2 formation:
Julian Speroni – GK (Crystal Palace)

Damien Delaney – RB (Crystal Palace)
Sylvian Distin – CB (Everton)
Joel Ward – CB (Crystal Palace)
Alexander Buttner – LB (Manchester United)

Mathieu Flamini – DMF (Arsenal)

Adam Lallana – AMF (Southampton)
David Silva – AMF  (Manchester City)
Morgan Amalfitano – AMF (West Bromwich Albion)

Luis Suarez – FW (Liverpool)
Wayne Rooney – FW (Manchester United)

Brendan Rodgers – Manager (Liverpool)

 

David Moyes: My Candid and sincere opinion

David Moyes is looking increasingly like one of the few mistakes Fergie’s made over the years although this appears to be the most painful yet.

Moyes has shown so far that he is unable to step up tactically to the elite level. Whilst the fact that the squad Fergie left for Moyes isn’t of vintage quality has been rehashed severally in the media this season, the squad is definitely still a top 4 squad. This is a squad with Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, Shinji Kagawa, Michael Carrick, Javier Hernandez, Luis Nani, Darren Fletcher, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Rafael da Silva, David De Gea, Anders Lindegaard even if we are to sideline those deemed aged or ageing, flailing or failing.

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I find it extremely shocking that, man for man, player for player, on paper, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs or Everton don’t have better players than United but on current form and throughout the season so far are all miles ahead of United with Moyes breaking new bad records almost every other home game. We are talking about players that over the years have developed the good habit of winning a trophy at least every other season. These are players that have dominated not only domestically but also continentally. These are players that don’t just know what it takes to get to the top, but to also stay at the top. These players don’t need to be changed, they just need their already very good habits to be perfected and magnified and any bad habits or weaknesses minimised or eradicated. For example, Rio and Evra’s occasional lapse in concentration, Valencia’s inability to do anything with his left leg other than stand, Rafael’s occasional over-eagerness in tackle etc.

In contrast, Moyes’ managerial history is yet to deliver any trophy at the top level. His managerial and coaching history can only be deemed to be not “a winning one” and average at best. To be fair, Moyes already has some of the good habits of an elite coach/manager – mainly work ethic and dedication. What remains lacking is his tactical astuteness, a winning philosophy and the ability to cross the finishing line. So with Moyes selection (read imposition) as manager post Fergie, he got a very rare opportunity to observe at close quarters how United trained, worked and prepared the team…basically he had the opportunity to observe what made them dominate and/or tick. Of course he could only do this if he retained majority of Fergie’s backroom staff and watched them work on the players. Sadly, Moyes gave up on this opportunity by not retaining any of Fergie’s coaching staff, especially Rene Meulensteen, despite Fergie’s advice to the contrary. He preferred to insist (not unreasonably) on having a hands-on approach and involvement in the coaching side – something Rene had almost complete autonomy over for five years prior to Fergie’s retirement.

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By doing this, Moyes gave up on the opportunity to see where he’d been failing as a coach whilst at Everton as they were a team that could never hope to break into the top 3 and learn from those that know better especially at the elite level. This may appear to be an unfair assessment but what Roberto Martinez has done at Everton since taking over from Moyes with the same players, albeit with some good loan signings, suggest I may be right and that Moyes tactics and mentality was what held Everton back. Indeed, interviews with Tim Howard and Ross Barkley (Everton’s 20 year old sensation) confirm this. This seems to correspond with what appears to be an obvious restriction on United’s playing mentality and tactics so far this season. The players seem to be confused about what they’re meant to be doing on the pitch (read Fellaini), or asked to play in roles unfamiliar to them or in direct contradiction to their abilities. Whilst in the past United swarm over teams at OT and served annihilation to some opponents, this season they seem to be waiting for the opponent to play the football whilst they remain rigid and in Moyes’ words “harder to beat”. We are talking about Manchester United here. Serial champions.

halftimeng adnan
www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Those that are more sympathetic to Moyes than I am keep saying Moyes needs time to know his players and that he still doesn’t know what his best team is. I find this excuse completely befuddling. Prior to assuming the mantle at Old Trafford, David Moyes had been manager of a premier league football club for 11 years. Besides, Adnan Januzaj, no member of United’s first team should be unknown to him (Mata, Fellaini and Zaha being the new additions but should still be known to him). Moyes would have as a matter of course scouted United over the years whenever his Everton team was to play against United. We are talking about at least 22 league matches if one ignores cup matches/competitions. Indeed, some of these players have been at United for almost as long as and if not longer than Moyes’ time at Everton so he should definitely know enough about them. Wouldn’t his scouting reports on United have detailed the strength and weaknesses of the players individually and as a team? Should the scouting reports, if comprehensive, not highlight the little area that United needed to work on to be even more formidable? Surely the scouting report wouldn’t suggest wholesale changes were necessary for perennial trophy winners? So why then has Moyes imposed sub-elite tactical changes on elite players?

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Further, how much time does Moyes actually need to get a grip on an elite tactic that exploits the best attributes of his players and produces a team that is greater than the sum of all its parts? Tony Pulis at Crystal Palace took only 3 games to impose astute tactics on his team, at their level, that looks like will keep them in the EPL. It has taken Mark Hughes a few games to impose astute tactics on Stoke that they are now playing some form of expansive football, expansive enough to defeat Moyes and his United team. How long did it take Roberto Martinez at Everton or Tim Sherwood at Spurs to start delivering? Ok, so these managers don’t manage top 4 teams so may be the lack of top 4 pressure gave them some breathing space. What then shall we say about Jose Mourinho at Chelsea or Manuel Pellegrini at Man City, Laurent Blanc at PSG, Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid, Tata Martino at Barcelona or Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich? These are all elite managers managing elite players and delivering the business in their first season at their clubs. What these managers are doing at their clubs is perfecting the already good habits their players have and making small tactical changes to help mitigate any weaknesses. None of them is making wholesale changes to their team but fine tuning where necessary. Case in point, Mourinho is contesting the league with almost no decent striker.

Moyes’ negativity and tactical ineptitude is always on display, week in week out. He seems to struggle with the fact that he can have several “false nines” or “number 10s” starting at the same time in a team. What he struggles to accept or adapt to is constantly being deployed by Barcelona, Bayern Munich even Man City etc week in week out. Barca frequently play Messi, Neymar, Iniesta, Cesc and Xavi in the same starting XI just as Bayern often play Gotze, Robben, Ribery, Kroos, Thiago in the same starting XI to very devastating effect. So the idea that Mata, Rooney and Kagawa cannot start and combine well in a Starting XI for United is not only preposterous but further proofs that Moyes is a man with very limited elite tactical ideas.

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Whilst it’s true that some players do not have a future at United and that the team is in need of a world class CM and up to four new players, I struggle to see how the amount of money needed to invest in the team can be trusted with David Moyes. If Moyes can struggle to produce good performances and consistently so by using elite tactics and modern football philosophy with players like Rooney, RvP, Kagawa, Mata, Carrick and Januzaj, surely he’ll struggle to produce it with players like Toni Kroos, Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and a host of top players recently linked with United too. If after 11 years at Everton and a year with United, Moyes cannot produce a team that can play highly technical and expansive football, what will make him magically produce it with these very expensive players being coveted, that’s even if United manage to procure them? United’s current players have in the past produced the type of football the Club’s history demands, what then is stopping them from producing it now? We can look no further than David Moyes and his coaches.

David Moyes judging by his own words does not believe that he is a Manchester United manager. During numerous press conferences to discuss United, he continually refers to the Club in the third person as “they” almost as if he has little to no connection with the Club. No Manchester United manager will ever refer to Liverpool as favourites at Old Trafford at the pre-game press conference of the United vs Liverpool match, neither will they aspire to be like their local rivals in a post-match press conference immediately following a comprehensive defeat by the local rivals at Old Trafford. Even if United were in league one, I cannot for the life of me ever imagine Fergie referring to Liverpool as favourites at Old Trafford or referring to Man City other than bin dippers.

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Most United fans were disappointed that the Club did not sufficiently back the manager during last summer’s transfer window. But if one looks at how terrible the season has gone for United, maybe we now know the reason why. Perhaps the Glazers couldn’t trust Moyes with significant money but wanted to show respect to Fergie (perhaps a little too much) by allowing him choose who would replace him as manager. The Glazers after all know very little about football. Whilst it makes no sense to not back your manager after handing him a six year contract, the Glazers should trust their original instinct and instigate the necessary changes needed to the coaching and playing staff.

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The main thing that needs changing this summer is the manager. The Glazers, Board and Fergie should have conducted a proper recruitment exercise last summer. The mis-appointment of David Moyes should be treated just like any other business mistake is, nothing more. There’s no need to be headstrong or to sensationalise it. United need to move on quickly. Fergie more importantly need not feel like he won’t be dictated to by the media on whether Moyes should remain as manager. Throwing money at the problem wouldn’t solve it. The facts are there for all to see. Surely Fergie must know that the team cannot train one way and perfectly during the week, and deliver something completely inept on match day. Something is wrong somewhere and the players have delivered too much over the years for the problem to lie with them. Case in point, in 2010, Rooney raised concerns about the quality of the United team and the direction the Club was going, that same season, they got to the final of the champions league losing to Barcelona in the final. Such is the mettle of these players.

The Glazers must decide now, how they hope to concretise the Club’s philosophy, identity and stem any possibility of touring the trophy less (league) wilderness like Liverpool continue to do. The Club must recruit a new manager this summer. All applicants must answer at least these 3 key questions:

–          What is your football philosophy?

–          How does it align with the Club’s history?

–          How do you plan to implement it and over what time frame?

The answers to these questions should help identify who should manage United going forward. Finally, the new manager must be someone that has won trophies and knows how to win.

Wenger Must Go? – Adeyemi Lahanmi

article-2585224-1C773FB200000578-596_964x463The Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger is in no doubt going through a torrid moment in his momentous career as his 1000th game in charge of the gunners went totally awry. As he described it, ” it was one of the worst moments of my career”. On a day that was meant for a joyous celebration, Arsenal were shredded to pieces as Chelsea went on the rampage against the gunners demolishing them by 6 goals to nil but, what went wrong? It seems when it comes to Arsenal, every piece makes an interesting reading and almost everyone becomes a world class football analyst. The cry is now being re echoed. “WENGER MUST GO”.

Well, most care to just look at the surface level but deeply, how many people can look at Arsenal and say the truth without necessarily joining the band wagon of crucify him?  It’s hard to do as we are in a world of if you can’t beat them, join them. Is Wenger the problem to Arsenal or solution?
It’s hard to rubbish achievements and standards which Wenger has 
achieved in his 18 years at the club,  his charisma, the ability to spot and unearth talents as well as managing the financial aspect of the club proves a worthy cause. The new Emirates Stadium and building a brand of football which almost every manager loves to see even his greatest rival Sir Alex Ferguson stated he loves watching the Gunners because of the brand of football they play, can we ever forget the “invincibles” of 2003-2004 season where Arsenal became the second team in English football history to go a whole season unbeaten? His business acumen that kept Arsenal in a financially healthy position, also contributing immensely to revolutionizing English football. Can all these be thrown down the trash can or doesn’t it count anymore?

article-2586721-1C7D425800000578-581_634x415It’s true that a  big club like Arsenal has not won a trophy in nine years, and that has become a major source of concern for the club, fan base worldwide and even the board. With recent successes of cash-rich Man city and Chelsea, the thesis is already being proven that money buys success but does it on the long run? Le Prof is truly not enjoying his second part of his 18 years stay as his first 9 years was a trophy success but he still remains a hot cake in the football world and one of the greatest managers that has ever graced the game. He may have been overly stubborn at times realising his mistakes or not cashing in on players at the right time but recent chants of “Wenger Must Go” isn’t the right path to tow or is it?

downloadBuilding a club doesn’t mean spending ridiculously to win but investing in the right players,healthy and sustainable means of survival. Remember the likes of Rangers of Scotland, Portsmouth and even Leeds United all lost their top flight status when they went bankrupt? There must be a balance in the board’s vision of steering the club. It must envision success both on and off the pitch without it affecting the bank account.

 Adeyemi Lahanmi.

EPL Team of the Weekend (23/03/14)

Following an exciting English Premier League weekend, we have carefully chosen our best XI. Do you agree or disagree with the panel? Let’s hear from you via the comment section of this page or via twitter -@halftimeng. Using a 4-3-3 formation, here it is. Thank you.

2014-03-24-EPL-TOTWGK – Julian Speroni – Crystal Palace: He kept Palace in the game until he conceded late when he was beaten by Papiss Cisse’s winner, he however made a number of fine saves in this particular game.

LB – Liam Rosenoir – Hull City: The full-back performed well throughout his side’s crucial win over West Brom, but his perfectly-timed run to take advantage of Nikica Jelavic‘s missed penalty was especially admirable. Hull haven’t won any of the Nine EPL games that he’s missed.

RB – Geoff Cameron – Stoke City: Cameron scored a great goal though to add to his all-round play in a highly impressive Stoke performance

CB – Martin Skrtel – Liverpool:You can’t argue with two goals from a centre-back. No wonder he’s the joint-top scoring defender in the EPL this season.

CB – Gary Cahill – Chelsea: Brilliant display in the 6-0 drubbing off their city rivals.

MF – Yaya Toure – Manchester City: A hat-trick to terrorize Fulham. Sure, two were penalties, but the other was special. Easy decision for man-of-the-match at the Etihad.

MF – Andre Schurrle – Chelsea: Seven goals in ten EPL starts for Chelsea, brilliant.

MF – Christian Erikssen – Tottenham: The Danish playmaker scored twice as Spurs came back to claim a late 3-2 victory, and generally pulled the strings as Spurs showed great character.

FW – Wayne Rooney – Manchester United: No doubt, he’s the main man for his side. Brilliant goal, well-taken.

FW – Luis Suarez – Liverpool: He’s scored or assisted in 39 EPL goals this season. Excellent!

FW – Marko Arnautovic – Stoke City: Great game against Aston Villa.

Manager – Jose Mourinho – Chelsea: Thumbs up to the man that sure knows how to beat Arsene Wenger’s team.

NPFL MATCH DAY 3 PREVIEW

By Wale Quadry

Enugu-Rangers-140407-TeamTalk-BPP-300Match Day 3 in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will be a very interesting one as league lovers across various match centers are set to witness top games.

Enugu Rangers and Kano Pillars will go head-to-head on Saturday at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in one of the “must-see” games this weekend.

Friday 21 March 2014

Heartland FC v Sharks FC -Having lost five points out of the available six, Heartland Fc are expected to fire from all cylinders when they host Sharks FC this weekend at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri. Sharks are 9th in the Glo Premier League with three points, while Heartland are 14th with one point after two rounds of matches. The Blue Angels lost their first away game to Bayelsa United 1-0, while Heartland drew their first home match. Sharks gaffer, Gbenga Ogunbote had earlier stated that his Boys will not return empty handed from Owerri. It’s going to be a difficult game for both sides.

Halftimeng Glo Npfl logoSaturday 22 March 2014

Enugu Rangers v Kano Pillars -This is arguably the biggest game of this round as one-time African Coach of the year, Okey Emordi who is now Kano Pillars coach, makes a return to his former club looking to get a favourable result. Rangers on the other hand are desperate on their part to get their season started with a home win which will serve as a morale booster for them. Pillars were unable to win last weekend against Sunshine Stars last weekend while the home side suffered a 2-1 defeat in the hands of Enyimba.

Crown FC v Dolphins FC -NPFL newcomers, Crown FC will be welcoming Dolphins FC at the Lekan Salami Stadium in a league tie this Saturday. The Pride of Port Harcourt started their league campaign on a good note when they grind out their first a way point of the season against Heartland FC in game week one. The 2012 Federation Cup quarter finalists have three points to their credit in their first home game, they must be very careful when they set out against Dolphins who have not been easy to crack for any home team in recent time.

FC Taraba v El-Kanemi Warriors -El-Kanemi Warriors will be guest to Taraba FC at Jolly Nyame Stadium in an NPFL game on Saturday. Both teams lost their last match, this will be the second time Warriors will be playing away from home, they are good travellers, they are capable of stunning home teams. FC Taraba have a difficult mission to accomplish this weekend, I don’t see them coming out of this game with full points.

NPFL actionSunday 23 March 2014

Akwa United v Kaduna United -The Promise Keepers are doing fine at the moment, they have amassed four points from the available six, they forced Nasarawa United to a one all draw in their first away game of the season, they will be going into this game with a lot of confidence. Kaduna United on the other hand are yet to pick a point on the road this season, although this match will be their second away game of the season. Getting a point in Uyo will be a tall order for the Crocodiles.

Lobi Stars v Gombe United – The likes of Terka Malai, Stephen Eze, Phillip Asuq and co will be on duty for Evans Ogenyi side as they face Gombe United on Sunday at the Emmanuel Atongo Stadium. Lobi lost their last game to Sharks FC by a lone goal while the Desert Scorpions drew theirs. For sometimes now, Lobi have not lost to Gombe United at home, they will be looking for a way to keep that record as they go into this duel.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Warri Wolves v Enyimba – The Seasiders and Enyimba of Aba will light up the Warri City Stadium next Wednesday when both teams meet. The two sides won their last game at home, they have a lot of momentum as they go into this clash. It’s going to be a tricky encounter for both sides. The two clubs have an avalanche of experienced players in their fold who are capable of grinding out results.

Bayelsa United v Nasarawa UnitedBayelsa United are third on the table with 4 points, they will be hosting Solid Miners at the Sapele Township Stadium on Wednesday. Nasarawa United lost their last away game to FC Taraba 2-1, this will be their second away game of the season. Bayelsa United are very solid at home, they have not drop a point at home in their last eight league games.

NPFL Week 2 Review

The latest installment of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) games were played across the federation over the weekend as seven matches took center stage. Three teams stood out with stunning results away from home by Bayelsa United, Sunshine Stars and Akwa United. Enyimba International extended their dominance over Enugu Rangers in the Oriental derby as a total of fifteen goals were recorded on Match Day 2.

NPFL actionGombe United 0:0 Bayelsa United
The match ended in a stalemate between the two sides. Bayelsa United’s last five visits to Gombe yielded no results nor goal as it all ended in losses. By the virtue of this draw, Bayelsa United now have four points in two games while the Desert Scorpions have 1 point from from the available six points.

1557712_443266592486162_2126001031_nEnyimba 2 :1 Enugu Rangers

The Oriental derby lived up to its billing on Sunday as the two-time African champions, Enyimba recorded a massive 2-1 win over Enugu Rangers in Aba. Sibi Gwar opened scoring in the 60th minute before Andrew Abalogu added the second goal on the 76th minute, Semiu Liadi turned Ejike Uzoenyi’s cross into Enyimba’s net in the dying minutes of the game. Enyimba now have four points from two NPFL games.

gombe-united-blue-BPP-300Kano Pillars 2:2 Sunshine Stars

Sai Mai Gida fans were on their feet for 90 minutes as they witnessed an unusual result that could have ended their unbeaten home run for 10 years had they not scored a late equaliser against Sunshine stars. The Akure Gunners failed to win their first game of the season against Enyimba as the crunchy encounter ended in a stalemate on Thursday, they bounced back in a four goals thriller on Sunday at the Sanni Abacha Stadium against the league champions, Kano Pillars as they muscled out a two all draw. Ezekiel Mbah and Gambo Muhammad got a goal each for Pillars while Dele Olorundare and Kingsley Eduwo scored a goal each as well for Sunshine.

Nasarawa United 1-1 Akwa United

The Solid Miners took the lead on the 60th minute through Habu Ali after a goalless first half. Akwa United responded well in the second 45 minutes after captain Nnamso Edo scored from a free kick before full time to ensure that the Promise Keepers take a point away from Lafia. Akwa United now have four points from two NPFL games.

Sharks FC 1: 0 Lobi Stars

It was a hard earned victory for Gbenga Ogunbote and his Boys as they amassed their first maximum points of the season at the Sharks stadium on Sunday.  Ifeanyi Inyam’s 16 minute strike was enough to help Sharks claim the three points against a difficult Lobi Stars.

Kaduna United 3:1 Taraba United
Smarting from a 2-0 defeat in their first league game of the season as they were pipped by Abia Warriors. The Crocodiles were at their beston Friday when they recorded their first win of the season with a comfortable 3-1 home win over FC Taraba in Kaduna. Kaduna United opened scoring via a well converted spot kick through Isa Aminu after Taraba defender handled the ball in the box. Luther Iyorhe leveled up for Taraba FC in the 28th minute before Ibrahim Sanusi doubled the lead in the 61st minute,  Siman Yusuf  scored the third goal for the home side 10 minutes after Sanusi’s goal.

Crown FC 1:0 Heartland

Former Gombe United player, Frank Chukwujekwu who came in as a super substitution in the 78 minutes of the game got the match winner for the Ajilete Boys on Sunday as they gathered the maximum points by edging Heartland FC 1-0 at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan.

EPL Team of the Weekend (16/03/14)

Six points cover the top four, six points cover the bottom eight. Is it the best Premier League season ever? -Have your say via any of our medium.
Following an exciting English Premier League weekend, we have carefully chosen our best XI. Do you agree or disagree with the panel? Let’s hear from you via the comment section of this page or via twitter -@halftimeng. Thank you.
2014-03-16-EPL-TOTWGK – David Marshall (Cardiff City)
 
Defenders:
Seamus Coleman (Everton) – RB
Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa) – CB
Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) – CB
Jon Flanagan (Liverpool) – LB
 
Midfielders:
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
Fabian Delph (Aston Villa)
David Silva (Manchester City)
Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal)
 
Forwards:
Osaze Odemwingie (Stoke City)
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
 
Manager:
Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)

NPFL Week 2 Preview

Action continues this weekend in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)  with two  massive games to look out for. Enyimba of Aba and Enugu Rangers will be trading tackles as the former league champions go head-to-head. Another interesting game will be in Kano,  where Kano Pillars and Sunshine Stars will be engaging themselves in a fierce contest.

halftimeng enyimbaEnyimba v Enugu Rangers
Enyimba fans will have a great moment to savour on Sunday at Enyimba International Stadium as the biggest game of the Match Day between the Aba Warriors and the Flying Antelopes’ takes center stage.Enugu Rangers will be playing their first game of the season while Enyimba will be playing the second of the new NPFL season,  Enyimba drew their first game against Sunshine Stars on Thursday. Both teams have met 19 times in Oriental derby, Enyimba have the highest number of wins leaving Rangers with only six wins. It’s not going to be an easy ride for the visitors.

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Kano Pillars v Sunshine Stars
Coming from a disappointing outing in CAF Champions League, Kano Pillars will be looking for a way to prove a point on Sunday when they meet the Akure Gunners at the Sani Abacha Stadium.This game will be the first for the League Champions this season. Sunshine Stars were held to a goalless situation on Thursday by Enyimba. Sunshine Stars are yet to find the back of the net in this encounter against Pillars in their last seven meetings. This unwanted stat makes this tie an even tougher proposition for the visitors.

halftimeng.com NPFL Coach of week 26
naijaligue.blogspot.com

Sharks v Lobi Stars
The Blue Angels suffered a defeat in their opening game of the season as Bayelsa United defeated them 1-0 courtesy of a header by Mutiu Adegoke.  They will be entertaining Lobi Stars on Sunday at the Sharks Stadium; Lobi stars recorded a victory in their first league game 1-0 against newly promoted Crown Fc. Playing at home to Sharks has always been a tough task for the Benue Army as they are yet to record a win against Sharks for over a decade.

Nasarawa United v Akwa United
Former Kano Pillars gaffer,  Mohammed Baba Ganaru lost his first game of the season last weekend by a lone goal to Tijani Babangida’s FC Taraba, his boys would have learnt from their mistakes and they will be looking for a way to correct their errors as they host Akwa United this Sunday at the Lafia Township Stadium. Akwa United amassed the maximum points against Gombe United over the the weekend in Match Day 1, they are capable of forcing the Solid Miners to  a draw, their last two visits to Lafia Stadium ended in draws. Baba Ganaru lead team must be very careful in other to avoid a defeat.

Enugu-Rangers-140407-TeamTalk-BPP-300Crown FC v Heartland
NPFL newcomers,  Crown FC put up a good performance in their opening game, although they lost 1-0 to Lobi Stars while Heartland FC were forced to a one all draw in their last game. The Ajilete Boys will come up against Heartland FC this Sunday at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan. They will be playing against a well organised side, a win for Crown FC may be a tall order.

Gombe United v Bayelsa United
The Desert Scorpions were not convincing in their opening game as  they lost the full points to Akwa United, they will be hosting Bayelsa United who picked up all three points on Thursday against Sharks FC at the Pantami Stadium on Sunday. The Restoration Boys are full of confidence going into this tie, especially with the kind of experienced players in their fold  bought during the transfer window who are capable of wrecking havoc on any team although Bayelsa United last five visits to Gombe United ended in losses and without a goal.

NPFL Team of Week 1

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The Nigerian Premier Football League has finally gotten off the ground, as is customary with us at halftimeng.com, we select the best performers from Week 1. Dolphins and Enyimba Players dominate NPFL Match Day Team of the Week 

Eight games were played in the opening fixtures of the 2013/2014 NPFL season.  The Port Harcourt  based club; Dolphins avoided defeat to Heartland for the first time since the inception of the club. The People’s Elephant forced Sunshine Stars to a barren draw in front of their home fans in Akure.

Stanley Eguma gets the nod as manager of the week as he guided Dolphins to an historic outing against the Naze Millionaires as they worked out a point. Prior to this meeting,  Dolphins have failed to secure a point nor scored a goal in the same corresponding fixture in the past 11 years.

Dolphins goal tender, Austin Brown was exceptional for his team as he made wonderful saves from the goal-bound efforts of Ekeh and Emeka Ogbugh to ensure Dolphins left Owerri with a share of the spoils.

Austin will be in goal, while Victor Ezuruike of Dolphins and Chinedu Udoji will get the nod for the center back positions, Mutiu Adegoke will play from the left back position,  his goal was the major difference when Bayelsa United defeated Sharks Fc on Thursday, Idris Aloma of ELKANEMI Warriors was outstanding for the Borno Warriors, he can play from either right or left back, his effort down the left back contributed to ELKANEMI’s attack,  he will complete the four-man defence as he plays from the right back in this week’s best 11.

Enyimba’s influential midfielder, Ayo Saka will lead the midfielders alongside Phillip Asuoquo of Lobi Stars, while Francis Mmedum of newly promoted Crown Fc will play as a defensive midfielder. Saka  was essential for Enyimba in the midfield as he put up a commanding performance, he played for 90 minutes and his effort paid off as his team returned to Aba with a point.

The trio of Ifeanyi Egwim of Dolphins, Kingsley Sokari of Enyimba and Bishop Onyeudo of Abia Warriors will handle the goal scoring business upfront. Ifeanyi Egwim’s strike in the 43rd minute against Heartland was adequate for Dolphins to pick a point in Owerri on Sunday, Bishop came in as a super substitution as he doubled the lead in the second half against Kaduna  United when Abia Warriors needed a goal to seal the victory. Kingsley Sokari didn’t score in the nervy encounter between Sunshine Stars and Enyimba but he was a torn in the flesh for Sunshine defence, his incisive runs and ability to be precise when going forward merited him a place in this team of the week.

NPFL Match Day 1 Review

NPFL-spectators-celebratingMatch Day 1 of the 2013/2014 Nigeria Professional Football League(NPFL) saw eight games with nine goals and two away draws as teams set out for the NPFL title.

Dolphins Football club of Port Harcourt and Enyimba of Aba kick off their league campaign with a draw as they share the full points with their respective hosts. Stanley Eguma Boys picked their first away point of the season in Owerri against Heartland Fc while Six-time Champions, Enyimba International played out a barren draw in Akure against Sunshine Stars.

Heartland 1-1 Dolphins
Heartland fans witnessed an unusual game and result on Sunday at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri as Dolphins scored their first goal and picked their first away point of the season since 2003.
The Naze Millionaire took the lead in the 35th minute when Kelechi Ezeh deflected free kick found the back of the net. Ifeanyi Egwin who was a torn in the flesh for Heartland defence leveled up for Dolphins in the 43rd minute.

Lobi Stars 1-0 Crown FC
It was a keenly contested game between the two sides, Lobi Stars have to wait for added time before they broke the deadlock. Lobi Stars central defender Stephen Eze goal in the added time makes the difference in the game as he nodded in Moses Bunde corner kick.

Abia Warriors 2-0 Kaduna United
NPFL newcomers Abia Warriors won 2-0 in front of an appreciative crowd at the Umuahia Township on Stadium on Saturday. Two unreplied goals from Chima Uluocha in the 28th minute and Bishop Onyeudo who came as a substitute in the 84th minute was adequate for Abia warriors to pocket the available points.

gombe-united-blue-BPP-300Akwa United 1 – 0 Gombe United
Prior to this encounter, Gombe United had lost their last five visits to Akwa, the last loss ended in five goals thriller as the visitors were pipped 2-3 last season. The Promise Keepers gathered the full points on Sunday as Namso Edo’s 54th minute penalty kick beat Chigozie Agbim who was in goal for the Desert Scorpions after Ubong Ekpai was brought down by Gombe United defender.

Taraba Fc 1 – 0 Nasarawa United
It was a slim victory for Taraba Fc against Nasarawa United on Saturday at the Jolly Nyame Stadium. The league debutant played their first top flight match in front of their teeming fans over the weekend and they grind out the maximum points. Nasarawa United missed a couple of goal scoring chances, they got a deserve penalty but failed to convert it.

Sunshine Stars 0-0 Enyimba
The People’s Elephant forced Sunshine Stars to a 0-0 draw at the Akure Township Stadium on Thursday. Both teams gave a good account of themselves, the Akure Gunners goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa was at his best as he denied Enyimba’s strikers their scoring chances.

Warri wolves 1-0 Elkanemi Warriors
It was a nervy affair between the Sea Siders and the Borno Warriors on Thursday at the Warri City Stadium. The home team held up to 71st minute before they got the green light in the game as Musa Najere put the homers ahead via a spot kick after Joshua Obaje was brought down in the vital area of the visitors.

Bayelsa United 1-0 Sharks Fc

The Restoration Boys narrowly picked the maximum points at the Sapele Township Stadium as the former Shooting Stars left full back, Mutiu Adegoke got the only goal that separated the two sides through a header in the 19th minute of the encounter. The Blue Angels responded so well in the second half of the game but all their attempts yielded no result as they were wasteful in front of goal.