With the commencement of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2017/18 season just over a month away, participating teams have commenced preparations ahead of the season which would be shorter than previous ones.
Our Chief Football Writer FISAYO DAIRO is going round some of the team camps and pre-season training sessions and will be bringing you news, reports and some inside ‘gists’ from the camps, starting from Port Harcourt based side, Rivers United.
www.aclsports.com was at the team’s five-hour training session on Tuesday and we brought some juicy snippets of the activities in a crisp, succinct manner. http://aclsports.com/6492-2/
New players (including ex-Dolphins and Sharks stars) on trials
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As reported by us last night, over fifty players took part in the training session handled by Rivers United coaches Stanley Eguma and Joe Boma. It is a normal trend that pre-season camps of top flight teams in Nigeria are always under siege by players willing to join the club – Rivers United are not exempted. In fact, due to perceived limitless budget available to run the club from Rivers State government, players would always prefer to join such club.
Seasoned league campaigners such as former Abia Warriors duo Chima Uluocha and Uche Ihuarulam and former Enyimba defensive midfield star Abdulrazak Aliyu were in Tuesday’s session. As it is with majority of coaches in the NPFL and their former players, there were lots of familiar faces in camp also hoping to get a look-in and a contract. They include Fortune Omoniwari who just returned from a trial at South African side Cape Town City, former Under-20 and Under-23 versatile defender Chizoba Amaefule and the ageless Derek Amadi.
Where is Gambo Mohammed?
The Nigerian media has been awash with news and quotes claiming that Kano Pillars legendary striker Gambo Mohammed has been signed by Rivers United.
We also hoped to see him in training on Tuesday but to our greatest surprise, he was nowhere to be found. Two of the team’s senior players confirmed to www.aclsports.com jokingly and separately that they are yet to see him in Port Harcourt.
“Na so we too read am for papers o, we never see am. But time still dey sha, make we dey look,” said an experienced defender who once played for Plateau United. We will surely keep tabs on the situation so it doesn’t turn out to another Peter Ebimobowei scenario when the striker landed at Al-Ahly in Egypt shortly after the then Dolphins announced his signature in January 2015.
The senior men are resting
Happens in every team doesn’t it? About five to seven of the team’s most senior players are not yet part of training. Two of them, including the captain were however present to provide “moral support” – whatever that means – to their teammates. Lastly, one of the team’s oldest and most reliable players Sunday Rotimi arrived on Tuesday after he was understandably given extra days rest. He dropped by to say hello and in his humble manner shook hands with ALL the players in training, including yours truly – which he did twice.
Elele Camp for Rivers United?
There was this beer-parlour gossip also among the spectators at training on Tuesday. A “distant” official of the club claimed to have it on good authority that plans are at an advanced stage to move the team’s Camp to Elele in Rivers state.
This will surely be an interesting development as the distance between Elele and Elekahia where the team’s stadium is based is some forty five minutes drive. The reason they say, is to curb indiscipline among players. We hope, as it is, it is just a beer-parlour talk.
Some things don’t change
“The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Some things are always constant especially in Rivers United settings.
Things such as Ali Chiwedu getting injured during training and competitive games, though it was nothing serious this time as he bounced back to the whole duration comfortably.
Some things also don’t change, such as Abdoulaye Kanoute blazing over the bar in front of an empty net just as other things such as Coachee’s arrival time at training sessions especially doesn’t change from what it used to be four, five years back.
These are some inside gists from Rivers United’s camp, we will sure try to visit more clubs before the season starts in December. Expect one more NPFL side “Inside Gists” before the week runs out.