Enyimba captain, Mfon Udoh, scores from the spot in a recent NPFL game
In the last two seasons, followers of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) have had to look in the unusual sides of the log to locate seven times champions, Enyimba International. After winning the 2014/15 season, the Aba Elephants have endured struggles with other clubs around places from eight to 15th at times and last Sunday, they climbed to seventh position on the log after a slender 1-0 victory over Rivers United.
The 2015 champions required a 63rd minute penalty by captain Mfon Udoh in their adopted home ground – UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar – perhaps to signal their ambition to rise on the log.
One of the People’s Elephant’s key actors on the day was towering midfielder, Kelly Kester, who put up a superlative showing yet again as the side managed by Gbenga Ogunbote controlled the midfield areas, especially through his domineering influence.
The win stretched Enyimba’s unbeaten sequence in the league to four games and in a chat with www.npfl.ng after the Matchday 15 encounter, Kelly attributed their new form to continuity and harmony in the team.
“I think it is down mainly to continuity in the playing personnel and also love (among the team) which has led to us working for each other,” the former Sharks of Port Harcourt midfielder stated.
Talking of the continuity, Enyimba have made use of just seventeen players in the past five games with an average of two changes in the starting lineup per each match day.
The result is there to see as the cohesion in the team continues to grow. Kester emphasizes that their rise on the log will continue at a steady rate.
“Seeing how we have performed in the last five games or so, we can only see ourselves gradually climb to the top of the log with luck and God on our side,” he said.
After starting the season on the fringes of the squad, Kester, who was voted the club’s second best player last season by fans on an online portal “ThatEnyimbaFan,” has started those five games he mentioned and that has coincided with the team’s best run of form. He however acknowledged the competition for places in the side and admits it helps to bring out the best in the players.
“The competition for places has been great because I believe it is a healthy one. It has personally pushed me to always try to give my best whenever I am selected and I think it has improved my game and the general performance of the team.”
Despite sitting six places adrift of the top of the table, Enyimba are just six points behind league leaders, Plateau United, but the 24-year old believes winning the title is still achievable.
“It is simple,” he responded when asked of his team’s ambitions.
“Win the league or at least get into continental places and with the quality of the team and our new found form, I believe it is achievable.”
Speaking on his own personal ambitions for the season, the over 6ft tall midfielder hopes to get a call to represent the country very soon especially as the 2018 CHAN qualifiers draw near.
“I aspire mostly to end the season as a (league) champion and continue to put in top notch performances which I hope will get me noticed. It will be an honour to put on the green and white jersey someday,” he said.