Club f ocus CLUB INFO. Name: Enyimba International FC Nick Name: People’s Elephant Year of Formation: 1976 TROPHIES WON: League Trophies: Seven (7): 2002; 2003; 2005; 2007; 2010; 2015. FA Cup: Four (4) : 2005; 2009; 2013; 2014. Nigeria Super Cup: Four (4) : 2001; 2003; 2010; 2013 CAF champions League: Twice (2): 2003; 2004. CAF Super Cup: Twice (2): 2004; 2005. CAF Confed. Cup: One (1) Appearance: 2010: Second Round of 16 Club Chairman: Chief Felix Anyansi Agwu: Stadium: Enyimba Stadium, Aba Average Capacity (2015): 25,000 Former great players: Uche ‘Gentle Giant’ Okechukwu, Obinna Nwaneri, Vincent Enyeama, Dele Aiyenugba, Yusuf Mohammed, Muri Ogunbiyi, Onyekachi Okonkwo. Club Colours: Blue and White ENYIMBA INTERNATIONAL FC OFFICIALS Technical Adviser: Paul Aigbogun Head Coach: Samson Unuanel Secretary: Chibuzor Nwogu Coordinator: Okey Nwabeke Sporting Director: Jude Anyadifu Team Doctor: Dr Onyeike Kalu Physio: Ajiero Ferdinand Media Officer: Farrell Alaputa Nurse: Ngozi Francis Equipment Manager/Curator: Ikechi Okoro ENYIMBA Enyimba are one of the best supported sides in the Nigerian league 32 COMPLETE FOOTBALL Words: Sab Osuji IN THE BEGINNING… On February 3, 1976, the old East Central State of Nigeria was divided into two by General Murtala Muhammed, thus giving birth to Imo and Anambra States. Although the Head of state was to die just 10 days later, he had inadvertently laid the egg that was to later hatch and become the proverbial golden fowl called Enyimba International FC, Aba. Before then, Enugu Rangers International was the dominant football force in Eastern Nigeria, a trade mark identity of the Igbos who used the club to launch themselves back into national mainstream after a protracted civil war of 1967-1970. Rangers dominated the Nigerian soccer scene in the early 1970s until after the creation of states when civil servants, including footballers and other athletes, in the old East Central State moved to their respective new states to signal a new dawn in the power dynamics of sports in the region and Nigeria as a whole. Many key players on the playing staff of Rangers of Imo state origin, notably Harrison Mecha, left for Owerri, the capital city of the new state. Such was the number of players who returned to Imo State that then Director of Sports, Dr Jerry Enyeazu, in an effort to carry everybody along, divided the large contingent of players into two. One group he stationed in Owerri and named Spartans Football Club. The other group was moved to the commercial city of Aba and named Enyimba Football Club. The 'international' tag came years later. When the Nigeria Football Association, NFA (now Nigeria Football Federation) organised the first home and away league format in the country, over 72 clubs were involved but ironically, Enyimba did not make the grade. Gradually, Enyimba became a conveyor belt for talented players to migrate to the more established and relatively much more successful Spartans FC. This was how the likes of Emiliano Momokobo, Sunny Ikwuagwu, Johnny Nwadioha and Ikechukwu 'Man Mountain' Madukairo amongst others found themselves in Spartans FC which later metamorphosed into Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1985. TURNING POINT… Enyimba later joined the third tier league but could not sustain their position and stuttered from one league division to another. However, with the creation of Abia State on August 27, 1991, Enyimba breathed a new lease of life as they opened another epoch in the club's life.
ENYIMBA INTERNATIONAL FC AIMING FOR THE 8TH HEAVEN Paul Aigbogun optimistic Enyimba can pluck league trophy despite stunting performance ENYI!!! With their third division slot off, League which had become a jinx for Nigeria. and with chief Chinwe The following year, they successfully Nwanganga and Eze Gaius defended their crown. Ihejiamaizu as pioneer Today, the Aba Millionaires have not only administrators, the Abia State become a brand in the country but as well on government acquired the slot of the African continent. With two CAF Falcons Bottling Company which Champions' League titles, two CAF Super was facing financial difficulties. Cups, seven domestic league titles and three Despite this bailout, success was FA Cups, Enyimba have become truly the not immediate for Enyimba. It still kings of Nigerian club sides football and still, continued to supply gifted players like the Oliver Twist, asking for more. to Inwuanyanwu Nationale, and Rangers. However, the emergence of Dr Orji Uzor Kalu as executive governor of Abia State in 1999 signaled a turn in the fortunes of Enyimba. Kalu assembled the best legs in the land, pumped cash into the running of the club and even exploited his personal relationships with football administrators at national and continental levels. It did not take long for the results to begin to pour in. By 2003, they reached the final and Striker Mfon Udoh won the elusive CAF Champions Paul Aigbogun is full of dreams for Enyimba despite the high mountain he is faced to climb in realizing his targets. Enyimba are defending champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League, which they lifted last seasln for the seventh time to set the record of Nigeria's all time highest winners so far. With 22 matches played so far, the People's Elephant are way back on the log, tucked in 9th place with 31 points, 10 adrift of leaders, Wikki Tourists. But Aigbogun, who parted company with Warri Wolves before the start of the current season to pitch tent with the Aba Millionaires, remains shrewdly confident of reaching an 8th Heaven mark. "Impossibility, they say, is nothing", retorts sly speaking Aigbogun. "We are working hard and believing we can do it. "Look at the league table, the gap is not so wide. Consider too that we have some games in hand. So by Coach Aigbogun the time we complete the required number of games like other teams, then, certainly our position on the standings will improve. "And from there we will give our ambition a further push". Enyimba, according to Aigbogun are going through an era of positive distraction. The CAF Champions League appears the major focus of the club this term. But the British-Nigerian gaffer says each competition has its own share of the plans. "Positively yes, you can call it a distraction. Playing in the CAF Champions League is essentially why have to be at our best at any given time. "If we don't place equal premium on the two competitions, we wouldn't have entered into them. We could have said, okay, let's register for one and forget the other. "But we know we're capable, we can do it and we're equal to it, the challenge, the positive drive that gets you to your target". Enyimba were without a win in four straight league games against Wikki Tourists, Shooting Stars, Nasarawa United and Rivers United. The odd turn of fortunes extended to the continental stage where they were uprooted on home soil by Egyptian side, Zamalek, in the opening group B match with a 1-0 defeat. The result cast doubts on the People's Elephant credentials to hold their ground and perhaps reach their target. "We always go out there with the mind set of winning every single game. But sometimes, you don't achieve all that you set out to achieve, that's a fact of life. “We were pained not to have gotten results in those games but it does not diminish our credentials, our quality as a team. In terms of quality players, we have it. When it comes to motivation, Enyimba is second to none. It's just that because there are three results available in a game, win, draw, lose, you are bound to get one. “The defeat by Zamalek has not damaged our continental ambition, it has not also ruined our domestic target. Instead, we take the positives from any setback and try to bounce back". COMPLETE FOOTBALL 33