In the hey days of Nigerian football, the most revered position in a football team was the “schemer”. These days, they talk more of the “playmaker”, but while both are similar, the schemer was very specific to the team’s master dribbler; the man the fans essentially paid to watch. Sometimes they were effective game changers, in other instances they were just there to keep the stadium alive!
I remember vividly that Enugu Rangers, despite their typical British kick-and-follow style, had Stanley Okoronkwo, a tall, athletic-built left footed dazzler who brought colour to an otherwise very Mourinho-esque Rangers game. Across the border, in Port Harcourt was Josiah Dombraye of Sharks, noted for producing one of the naughtiest dribbling stunt ever in a Super Eagles shirt (unfortunately, NTA never seems to find these clips).
Stationery Stores were always known for their Brazilian samba style of football, and it should come as no surprise that the man that made the word “schemer’ popular in Nigeria’s football lexicon was a Stores player, Haruna Ilerika. Ilerika was different from the others because he was both a first class entertainer on the field and a very effective playmaker. His defence-splitting passes opened the way for many of the goals scored by the Super Eagles in the 1970s. As Haruna aged towards retirement, in came Olumide Banjo and later, Yisa Alabi and a few others.
Since the return of Stationery Stores this season, fans have longed to see a natural schemer in the team, but to no avail. That until last Saturday when this seemingly innocuous young lad in jersey No. 2 was introduced to replace skipper Ayo Filani, in the second half of last Saturday’s game against ABS FC of Ilorin.
With just 4 touches, the chap (unfortunately I don’t have his name, but see his photo above) succeeded in doing what none of our midfielders have done this season: draw a standing ovation from the spectators. Now, the discovery of this new age schemer in Stores’ jersey no. 2 became the sole bright spot on an afternoon when the Lagos darling team had their worst performance this season, throwing away 3 precious points at home.
GOALKEEPER: Oguntoye Adeniyi 5
. An average performance.
RIGHT BACK: Femi Thomas 6
. Switched from Centre to Left back; fair
LEFT BACK: Adeola Fatolu 5
. Had an average game
CENTRE HALF: Jimoh Olawale 6
. Much better display than against Ekiti
CENTRE BACK: Tinat Gideon 6
. Surprise inclusion at Centre back but did well.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: Iretei F 5
. Paired Filani as DMs and was average
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Jelelola O. 5
. Fairly good performance but still below his potential
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER: Ayo Filani 6
. His diving header forced a heroic save from ABS’ keeper
ATTACKING MIDFIELDER: Oghenovo Uzezi 5
. Average performance
STRIKER: Festus Ajah 5
. Not his day
STRIKER: Raphael Onwrebe 5
. So poor he had to be yanked off early into the second half.
Chigozie Mbonu (replaced Onwrebe) 5
. Made a tremendous effort to connect Ajah’s shot, but otherwise anonymous
“Mr Jersey No 2” (replaced Ayo Filani), 7 (MVP)
Posted an MVP performance and made fans wonder where he has been all along.
Jersey No.8 replaced Jelelola 5
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER (MVP)
The young man in jersey No.2 came in midway into the second half and made a big impression with his flair on the ball. I will get his name, but the coach needs to play this guy a lot more to build his confidence, given the incredible potential.
STORES’ HIGHEST SCORERS THIS SEASON
1. Raphael Onwrebe 3 Goals
2. Festus Ajah 2 Goals
3. Musa Sadiq 1 Goal
4. Olaniyi Jelelola 1 Goal
MATCH WRAP UP
Ok, so the ref had at least three 50-50 instances when Stores should have been awarded a penalty, but chose not to, the point however is that the team did not work hard enough. Even the coach was so pissed off, he yanked off the captain, the highest scorer , and the usually most dangerous attacker. Last time, I commented that a few players played with their heads down (against Ekiti). This time, the virus seems to have spread to virtually everybody. Perhaps, it’s time the team hires a qualified psychologist.