With the Nigeria Professional Football League 2021/22 season full of excitement and anticipation, is set to kickoff, it might be difficult for us to know where we should focus our attention on.
League champions Akwa United will be looking to retain their place at the top of the pile while Kano Pillars and others look to narrow the gap in a competitive season. Just like many other years in the NPFL, lots of promising talents always emerge and hope to prove their worth for a whole host of reasons.
Battling for CAF Champions League, Confederations Cup and staying in the Nigeria top flight league, shows that there are lots of incentives for all teams – not forgetting the highly anticipated return of fans back to stadiums which will add more fuel to the fire.
In this post, we at Lodgexpress have made use of data-driven insights to identify and analyse exciting stars to watch in the 2021/22 NPFL campaign.
1. Success Idehen – Sunshine Stars – Midfielder
Sunshine Stars new signing, Success Idehen, rated by pundits as one of the best playmakers of this generation, is a tenacious, powerful, complete and aggressive midfielder, with outstanding athletic, physical and technical attributes, and also known for his intelligence on the pitch when in possession of the ball.
Idehen who is most times deployed as a defensive, central, or box-to-box midfielder, is also a competent tackler, and a tactically gifted midfielder, who is brilliant for his ability to anticipate his opponents.
Being a gifted midfielder, Idehen makes distribution of passes around the pitch look really easy and also his strength enables him to start attacking plays in midfield after winning back possession.
This season he will form part of Sunshine Stars’ feared midfield setup as the Akure outfit aim to battle for the league title too.
2. Inemesit Sunday – Dakkada Football Club – Winger
Following his breakthrough campaign last season at Akwa United, Sunday Inemesit has been considered to be an up-and-coming, potentially world-class wing player, and one of the most promising and talented young Nigerian footballers of this present time.
A versatile and hard-working attacker, he primarily operates as a left winger, a position which allows him to cut into the centre onto his stronger right foot and either attempt a shot at goal or create chances for teammates; he can also be used as an attacking midfielder, as a second striker, on the right flank, as a centre forward, or even as striker, due to his eye for goal.
Popular Nigerian sports pundit, Faith Onwukwe has noted that Inemesit is mainly known for his pace and agility, as well as his “outstanding dribbling ability and technical skill”.
She has also stated that Sunday Inemesit has often demonstrated his shooting power and goalscoring ability with strikes from outside the box, and has also described the player as an “above-average passer”, who “creates space with a solid first-touch”.
Presently on loan at Dakkada Football Club from Akwa United, Inemesit will be hoping to impress his parent club this season and Lodgexpress will be on ground to offer him assistant.
3. James Abel – Enyimba Football Club – Centre-back
Described by his fans as a “no-nonsense” defender, Enyimba Football Club new signing, James Abel has been labelled as a “tough” centre back, who is known for his physical challenges.
Abel James is a tall, large, tenacious, and physically strong defender, who excels in the air, and is known for his heavy marking of opponents, as well as his hard-tackling style of play and leadership; he is also highly regarded for his positioning, ability to read the game and his adeptness at winning back possession in one Vs one situations.
Gifted with good technical skills, and excellent distribution, and usually used as a centre-back last season at Football Club Ifeanyi Ubah, he was also utilized as a defensive midfielder in their 1-1 draw against Abia Warriors, where he demonstrated his confidence in possession, and ability to play the ball out of defence.
Although he is primarily known for his defensive skill and consistency, Abel’s pace, stamina and dribbling ability frequently enables him to get forward into good attacking positions, with his trademark long, surging, galloping runs on the ball, which earned him the nickname (“The Defence Minister”); these attributes, along with his powerful striking ability from distance and on set-pieces with his right foot, makes him an additional offensive threat.
4. Emmanuel Adachi – Heartland Football Club – Forward
Adachi is a classic predatory striker, a dominant force in the opposition penalty area. Having shone last term in the league, the 23-year-old found the back of the net on four occasions and further assisted once in 14 appearances, he’s undoubtedly been one of the best prospects to emerge from the league.
In general, the towering frontman looks to occupy the space between opposition defenders — whether that’s two centre-backs or a centre-back and a wing-back. That immediately puts the defenders in doubt: who gets to pick him up? Adachi’s ability to attack such spaces constantly put the opposition backline on the back foot.
He stretches that dilemma through the specific runs he makes. Be it curved runs from the blind side of his marker to arrive ahead of them when going after an aerial ball or checking a run to the near-post to deceive a defender, Adachi is constantly on the move when he’s in the penalty area.
Those runs can be subtle, simple adjustments of footwork or a cursory nudge to push a backline away, and compound the difficulty in keeping him quiet.
5. Emmanuel Charles – Dakkada Football Club – Midfielder
Former Akwa United sensation, Emmanuel Charles, plays primarily in the centre of the pitch as either a box-to-box midfielder or as a holding midfielder, and often switches between offensive and defensive stances throughout his games in the latter role. Charles is arguably a complete and versatile midfielder.
He is also capable of operating as a defensive midfielder or in the number 10 role. His key strengths are his passing range, vision and physical ability.
He is gifted with good technique and ball control, although he also excels defensively at breaking down opposing attacking plays and winning back possession through his powerful tackling ability.
He is also popular for his pace, stamina and physical presence, which is often combined with lungbursting runs from the middle, and he will no doubt bring lots of joy to the fans of Dakkada Football Club.
Charles is also capable of scoring goals due to his powerful striking ability from distance, and his heading ability, as well as his adeptness at scoring from set-pieces and penalties.
As exciting and interesting as this is, we must take pause here and continue later tomorrow, stay tuned for Part C of NPFL 2021/2022 season players to watch according to Lodgexpress.