Saturday, June 12, 2010

FEATURE: Musa, Salami Ignite Two-way Fight

While the Super Eagles faces Argentina on Saturday at the 2010 World Cup with fans unable to predict where the team’s goals would come from, two players of Nigeria’s B Team, Ahmed Musa and Eugene Salami are painting the Premier League in the country with goals. The two players are relieving the kind of head-to-head finish for the highest goalscorer award in the 2002 season when the duo of Joetex Frimpong, then with Enyimba and Victor Ezeji of Sharks Football and who returned from Tunisia to team up with the same club two seasons. Though that season’s statistics for the goals scored were marred by controversy, both men ended up as joint top scorer for the second with 16 goals each.
A season later, another set of players produced a dramatic finish for the same award. Late Endurance Idahor with Julius Berger in 2003 and Chibuzor Ozurumba playing for Iwuanyanwu Nationale, now known as Heartland Football Club, finished the season with 12 goals each.
Ezeji, regarded as a veteran in the Premier League at age 29, and who has scored seven times this season for the Blue Angels to steer it away from the drop zone, believes that this campaign has been full of drama just like in 2002 when he had to compete for the most prolific marksman’s gong with Ghanaian striker, Frimpong.
“In 2002, it was a very difficult league because there were so many good players around. I am not saying we do not have good players around now, but it is a different time now. I am happy that we still have players capable of eyeing records in the league. Musa and Salami are good players with lots of qualities and it shows that they are good players and that there are still good players in the Nigerian league. I am praying that one of them equal that record because it has stayed for too long,” said Ezeji.
But going into this weekend’s fixture, Salami appears to have the upperhand. His rival at Kano Pillars has been crocked again. This is the second time that Musa is suffering from an ankle injury he cupped at the West African Football Union (WAFU) Nations Cup in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Kano Pillars’ head coach, Salisu Yusuf, disclosed over telephone during the week that the player has suffered again from the same injury but pointed out that it is not as worst as it sounds.
“He (Musa) has suffered from the same ankle injury again. But this time it is not worst because he can still walk. But we are not going to risk by playing him in this weekend’s game (against Sunshine Stars). We have other players that can do the job for us like they have done in his absence. Hopefully he should be back for our next game,” said Yusuf, who has won the monthly Premier League award, organised by and, twice this year.
Musa, who hails from Edo State, is so distraught that his ankle has caved in once again. His anger stems from the fact that he would miss Sunday’s trip to Akure and it would mean that he can only feature in Kano Pillars’ last two games against Wikki Tourists and Enyimba. But Musa is still bullish that he can score two more goals and set a new goal scoring high after 20 years of Ishaya Jatau holding the record of scoring 17 goals in just one season.
“I am not happy that this is happening again to me this season and at this time of the season. I was hoping that I will play in the remaining games for my team but that will not happen now because I am injured again. Though it is not serious like the first one because it is just another injury on the same leg I will be looking forward to playing in our other games next week. I am also confident that I can still score two goals,” said the teenage attacking winger.
Just like Musa is important to the title challenge of Kano Pillars, Salami has been singled by his coach, Ladan Bosso, as the man that can pilot his side into a continental place. Bosso said of Salami after he netted twice last Monday against Kwara United to tie with Musa as top scorers: “He is an important player for us and this I have always stated. He is a team player and I am happy that he has so far played a big role in our ambition this season and I believe he will play more.”
Salami is excited about catching up with Musa in the race for the top scorer’s award. But the striker said he would be happy to see his side win the Premier League title, though that chance looks slim considering the number of matches remaining coupled with a seven-point gap between his club, Niger Tornadoes and the leading teams, Kano Pillars and Enyimba.
The Niger Tornadoes’ man said he is not totally focusing on winning the top scorer’s award instead he wants his team to finish as high as possible. Salami is, however, not ruling out the possibility of finishing top scorer at the end of this season provided that his club finishes in the top three.
“Anything can happen in football. So I am not saying that I won’t like to win the highest goalscorer’s award, but my main concern is to play for my club and make sure that we do well in the league. But since I have the chance to win something for myself I will not mind and I will not allow it affect the target of the club,” Salami said.
Musa, however, recognises the threat that Salami is capable of posing to his dream of becoming the highest goalscorer in his first season as a player in the Premier League. Salami could have even overtaken Musa last Monday had he converted a spot-kick against Kwara United, as he also missed loads of scoring opportunities.
With three games to go, Salami is looking like the man that can end the 20-year-old hoodoo. The contest between Musa and Salami is beginning to look like the same that transpired between Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba before the Ivorien came from behind to notch the top scorer’s gong and capped it up with an impressive double in England

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