Each season, certain relegated players sign for other Nigeria Premier Football League clubs after proving their ability in the top flight division.
Dakkada, Wikki Tourists, Nasarawa United and El-Kanemi Warriors all suffered relegation this season. However, that does not mean the members of the squad are necessarily bad. Most will feature for those sides in the Nigeria National League. Yet, certain standout performers deserve a spot in Nigeria’s top flight.
These four clubs have quality players in their respective squads. While we might see quite a few players quickly sign back with NPFL clubs before the start of next season, here are ten of the best players from recently relegated clubs.
𝟭𝟬. 𝗔𝗱𝗲𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗟𝗮𝘀𝗶𝘀𝗶 (𝗗𝗮𝗸𝗸𝗮𝗱𝗮 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗖𝗹𝘂𝗯) – 𝗔𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗿
When you look at his style of play it’s hard to believe that a player as good as Adewale Lasisi actually managed to get relegated. That it is true speaks so poorly of the Dakkada defence because the attack was something when Lasisi was in full flight.
A left-sided winger who was equally stunning at leading the press as he was creating chances as he was showboating defenders. Lasisi’s skill-set and production belongs in the top division, not the lower tier.
But there are many other teams who play intense and ferocious style, and one of them simply must sign Ade Lasisi to bolster their attack. He is a genius.
𝟵. 𝗢𝗴𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗹𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗳𝗳 (𝗚𝗼𝗮𝗹𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗿) – 𝗘𝗹-𝗞𝗮𝗻𝗲𝗺𝗶 𝗪𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗿𝘀
Being a shotstopper for a newly promoted team with limited financial resources is an extremely thankless job. Ogundele Sheriff did it to the best of his abilities but he couldn’t save El-Kanemi Warriors from relegation.
He is a magnificent goalie who is equally excellent with his feet, was among the top five goalkeepers with the highest save percentage during the first round of the league and faced the most shots.
He is also very good at coming off his line for sweeper actions, which is a very desirable trait for teams playing a high line.
𝟴. 𝗔𝗻𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗻𝘆 𝗡𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗱𝗶 (𝗗𝗮𝗸𝗸𝗮𝗱𝗮 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗖𝗹𝘂𝗯) – 𝗠𝗶𝗱𝗳𝗶𝗲𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗿
Dakkada have a number of interesting players in their squad but Anthony Nnamdi is one of the best of the lot. He is a monstrous ball-winner who covers the ground really well.
He’s only 19 and already appears to have a big future in the game. He has completed successful tackles, interceptions, blocks and has helped his side’s backline absorb pressures in all the six games he has played this season. He also wins 2.41 aerial duels in every game on average.
Nnamdi is quick, creative, agile, and technically gifted deep-lying midfield playmaker, with notable dribbling skills, quick reactions, and close ball control. He is known for his confidence and composure on the ball, as well as his ability to retain possession in tight spaces when under pressure, due to his low centre of gravity and resulting balance. Surely any NPFL team can grab the fast-rising teenager on a Bosman transfer.
𝟳. 𝗝𝗼𝘀𝗵𝘂𝗮 𝗢𝗴𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗲 (𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘄𝗮 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱) 𝗠𝗶𝗱𝗳𝗶𝗲𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗿:
Joshua Ogbole, another star midfielder for Nasarawa United, would find it challenging to play in the second division of Nigeria football. Rated as a top-class talent, Ogbole possesses the qualities to elevate any team in the World. His proficiency in set pieces and his ability to dictate play in midfield make him an attractive prospect for clubs in search of creative prowess.
Ogbole has played much of his best football as a defensive midfielder, playing in front of a back four, with number eights either side of him. He also excels as an eight in a 4-3-3, and as one of the two pivots in a 3-4-3 or 4-2-3-1 setups. When he plays as a six, he likes to drop towards the backline to ask for the ball close, and then looks to move the ball between the lines by playing forwards.
Such a top talent who has scored two goals deserves another shot at the top division next season.
𝟲. 𝗜𝗱𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝗚𝘂𝗱𝗮 (𝗪𝗶𝗸𝗸𝗶 𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗶𝘀𝘁𝘀) – 𝗪𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿
Wikki Tourists captain Idris Guda has been a bright spark for the Bauchi club since last season and the young attacker is undoubtedly an exciting player who has the potential to have a prosperous career.
With trickery and pace in his locker, there are clubs around the world always crying out for talent such as his to bolster their forward line.
He has been a source for goals and assists for the Big Elephant this term and looks more than capable of thriving at the top level next season.
He is the club’s top scorer this abridged season with 4 goals.
𝟱. 𝗔𝗻𝗮𝘀 𝗬𝘂𝘀𝘂𝗳 (𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘄𝗮 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱) – 𝗔𝘁𝘁𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗿
Despite Nasarawa United low-scoring campaign, several of their attacking players have managed to look like reasonably attractive prospects for circling top-flight clubs across Africa.
Anas Yusuf, formerly of Wikki Tourists, will be a wanted man at the end of the season. He may have only scored once and registered four assists all appearances this term, but his talent is obvious.
Lightning quick and able to operate on either flank and as a top no.9, Yusuf was often a bright spark in Nasarawa United’s otherwise gloomy season since rejoining the club during the mid-season transfer window from Wikki Tourists.
𝟰. 𝗠𝘂𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗱 𝗚𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗺𝗮 (𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘄𝗮 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱) 𝗚𝗼𝗮𝗹𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗿
Muhammad Galadima has shown how relegation on a goalkeeper’s CV is by no means a barrier with other shot stoppers shining in a team that often gives them plenty of tasks to do on matchdays.
In recent years, Solid Miners goalkeeper Galadima has been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Nigeria Premier Football League, leading to regular call-ups to the Nigeria home based Eagles.
Problems started for Nasarawa United when Galadima left the club for Wikki Tourists but was later re-signed during the mid-season transfer window when the team had already found themselves deep inside the relegation zone.
Nasarawa United, too, could face significant departures at the end of the season with some high profile players set to be open to offers from top teams across the world.
𝟯. 𝗩𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿 𝗖𝗼𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝘀 (𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘄𝗮 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱) – 𝗖𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿-𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸
Nasarawa United’s Victor Collins represents a future of terrific defending for a number of clubs around the world looking to rebuild their back line.
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way here. Victor Collins has found himself linked with a hosts of European clubs since the start of the second round of this season.
What has made him such an exciting prospect is his ability in set-pieces, his ability to combine his technical abilities alongside his robust defensive prowess at the heart of Solid Miners’ backline. Collins also found the back of the net once last season during their 2-2 draw at Akwa United.
His versatility across the pitch will be a tremendous incentive for many clubs, as he can also play as a left-back and a defensive midfielder.
𝟮. 𝗞𝘂𝗳𝗿𝗲 𝗘𝗯𝗼𝗻𝗴 (𝗗𝗮𝗸𝗸𝗮𝗱𝗮 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗖𝗹𝘂𝗯) 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗸𝗲𝗿
Dakkada looked doomed from the start of the season, and yet whenever you’d watch them in games they always seemed to be able to compete and that was largely down to three men: Adewale Lasisi, Emmanuel Ayaosi and Kufre Ebong.
Ayaosi left the club during the mid-season transfer window but Ebong and Lasisi went down with the ship.
Ebong is a tall striker with the ability to hold the ball up, link play and most impressively score goals.
Dakkada may face the prospect of losing top quality players such as Kufre Ebong. The allure of top-division football and the desire to prove himself at the highest level could prompt him to seek opportunities elsewhere. His departure would be a blow to the club’s aspirations and require Dakkada to rebuild and regroup.
𝟭. 𝗡𝗲𝗹𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝗔𝗯𝗶𝗮𝗺 (𝗡𝗮𝘀𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘄𝗮 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱) – 𝗗𝗲𝗳𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿
Top on the list is Nasarawa United’s Nelson Abiam. The Nigerian free-kick specialist is a ball-winning centre-back, and his resilience in the defense is highly commendable.
His sliding tackle clearances and his close-range ball-winning proficiency are just top class.
This season, while playing for both Wikki Tourists and Nasarawa United, Nelson Abiam has made brilliant clearances, have scored three goals and won over 50 aerial battles in the league. His overall performance has been satisfactory. If he were to be in a better team, he would perform better.
Nelson Abiam has found himself linked with a handful of Nigeria Premier Football League clubs as well as other European clubs and should have a bevvy of options in front of him during the transfer window.
The potential loss of these top class players would undoubtedly pose significant challenges for the respective teams affected. It remains to be seen whether these clubs can defy the odds and preserve their NPFL status.