Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NPL’s top free agents of off-season window

As the transfer window continues to heat up before the start of the Nigeria Premier League campaign for the 2010/2011 season, a number of players are out of contract with their various clubs ahead of the coming campaign of Nigeria’s top-flight division. There are a host of decent free agents in the off-season transfer window due to the nature of one-year contracts often handed out to players in the elite division. Also, the relegation of the NPL champion, Bayelsa United, last season has opened the door to several players – now on the lookout to move to other sides. Here gives a rundown on the top list of players without contractual commitment to their clubs:

Chibuzor Okonkwo
His career was looking bright two years ago after he stormed the scene with the Under-23s during the Beijing Olympics of 2008. But the right-back’s form has since dwindled and there are reports that he could be heading to FC Rostov of Russia, where it is believed that he had sealed a deal before the transfer window shut down on August 31 in Europe. The 21-year-old’s contract ran out at Bayelsa United last term after the club was relegated just a year after it won the Premier League crown. Apart from being linked with a move to Russia, Okonkwo has been frequently touted to have held talks with another Nigerian side, Heartland Football Club of Owerri.
Likely destination: FC Rostov, Heartland FC.

Eugene Salami
Last season, this 21-year-old striker equalled the 20-year-old goals’ record of Ishaya Jatau in the Nigerian league. But he was beaten to the top scorer crown by former Kano Pillars’ man, Ahmed Musa, with just a goal. Already, Salami has been to Belgium to seek for a move to Europe but the deal to join Westerlo fell through. The former Lobi Stars’ forward has had a decent stint with Niger Tornadoes since he joined the side – scoring a total 26 goals in the past two seasons. Hopes of heading to Europe appear to have been halted for now but Salami is being chased by a number of clubs in the elite division.
Likely destination: Kano Pillars, Enyimba, Sunshine Stars, Sharks FC

Osas Okoro
He is the elder brother of former Golden Eaglets and Heartland Football Club winger, Stanley Okoro. In the past two seasons he has been one of the pivots of the Bayelsa United setup, which won its first Premier League crown. With the relegation of Bayelsa United last term, the stocky attacker’s future is still undecided ahead of the coming season. But it is certain that he may not return to Bayelsa United for the 2010/2011 campaign, as he feels he has a bigger profile to feature in the Nigeria National League (NNL) also known as the National Division I League.
Likely destination: unknown

Stanley Ohawuchi
Out-of-contract former Under-20 forward featured in the Bayelsa United side that was relegated last season though was unsettled by the financial misgivings of the club and had to feature in a few games. Ohawuchi is distraught with the situation at Bayelsa United and is said to have discussed with an unknown foreign club but no deal has been reached with the transfer market in Europe already closed. Now the 20-year-old is in search of where to pitch his trade for the new season. The players is said to be in talks with a handful of top sides in the country but his next employer remains unknown. Certainly he will not be playing for Bayelsa United when the new season eventually gets underway.
Likely destination: unknown

Darlington Ihejiene
The graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) by virtue of being listed in the transfer market by his employer Enugu Rangers is now a free agent. The former Niger Tornadoes’ man did not enjoy a good spell with the Flying Antelopes and has now been placed on the transfer market by the Coal City club. But transfer speculations are rife that the defender could be heading back to Minna before the start of the 2010/2011 campaign. However, it still remains speculation, as possibilities are there that the player may still tie up a deal with any of the new sides in the Premier League.
Likely destination: Niger Tornadoes

Bassey Akpan
He has become of the understudy goalkeepers to Super Eagles’ number one, Vincent Enyeama, following recent invitations by the national team selectors of Nigeria. But the Akwa Ibom-born goalkeeper, who has featured in 45 games for Bayelsa United, is now out-of-contract with the former Nigerian champion. Two top-flight sides are in the hunt for the services of Akpan, 26. However, the deal for the national team fringe goalkeeper is being stalled by the refusal of Bayelsa United to allow him move to another side. The goalkeeper has his eyes set on playing for a side that will compete in one of the CAF-organised club competitions next year though another of his former employer is reportedly in the chase for him.
Likely destination: Kwara United, Sunshine Stars

Bernard Okorowanta
He is a sibling from the football family of the Okorowantas that produced the talented and fiery Tarila in the 1980s. Bernard, 23, has already played football outside of the shores of the country with Israeli side, Maccabi Tel Aviv as well as Sivasspor. The skilful midfielder was recently linked with the Naze Millionaires but nothing has since happened. Just like a number of Bayelsa United players, his next place of employment remains shrouded with the purported deal to Heartland Football Club still unofficial.
Likely destination: Heartland FC

Sane Pape Ousmane
The strong Senegalese centre-back is primed to leave Sharks Football Club. Last month he was in the Coal City of Enugu to hold talks with the management of the Flying Antelopes. Though he has agreed personal terms with the club in Enugu, the deal is still subject to the player securing his clearance from the Blue Angels. The 26-year-old has since returned to Port Harcourt to seek for either a move away from Sharks FC or a renewal but remains unsettled ahead of the new campaign.
Likely destination: Enugu Rangers

Bright Ejike
The Under-20 national team forward has been on-loan to the Blue Angels since the start of last season from six-time Premier League champion, Enyimba. At the moment, he is in the camp of the Under-20s where head coach, John Obuh, who is also gaffer of Sharks Football Club, has picked him as one of the players to feature in the coming African Youth Championship (AYC) qualifier against Mauritius. Ejike possesses similar playing style and petite physique with the likes of Osas Idehen of Enyimba, Ejike Uzoenyi of Enugu Rangers and Stephen Worgu of El Merreikh in Sudan. Four clubs including Sharks FC, where he currently plays, are keen to seal a permanent deal and claim 100 per cent ownership for the pacy striker. The four clubs have reportedly made enquiries for the player, whose full ownership belongs to the Peoples Elephant.
Likely destination: Sharks FC, Enugu Rangers, Heartland FC, Kwara Utd

Osas Idehen (Enyimba)
Last season, the Edo-born striker turned in a double-scoring of 10 goals for the Peoples Elephant in a title-winning season. Attempts to join Danish club, FC Brondby, before the close of the transfer window in Europe did not materialise after the club refused to hand Idehen a contract. But the club’s talent manager, Kim Vilfort, gave a flicker of hope to Idehen saying that FC Brondby will be keeping tabs on him by monitoring his progress. ''Osas Idehen has gone home (to Nigeria). He performed okay but did not impress so much. Based on what we saw, nothing happens. But of course, we are keeping an eye on him,'' Vilfort said. Certainly the 20-year-old will be starting next season with the Peoples Elephant next season but could be heading for Europe when the transfer window re-opens in January in 2011.
Likely destination: to remain with Enyimba till January 2011

John Owoeri
He has played for Warri Wolves (formerly NPA Seasiders), Bendel Insurance and Enyimba and moved abroad to don the colours of Dutch side, Feyenoord and then KVC Westerlo of Belgium before returning to the Premier League in 2009 to join CAF Champions League campaigner, Heartland Football Club. But Owoeri did try out at Major League Soccer (MLS) side, Columbus Crew, last term and returned to the camp of the Naze Millionaires in April to score all three goals in his side’s three-nil triumph against Sunshine Stars at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri. With the impressive form of Owoeri in the CAF Champions League this year though Heartland FC has struggled, he could be on his way to grabbing a contract abroad.
Likely destination: to remain with Heartland FC till January 2011

Kingsley Udoh
Attempts to join German side, Hansa Rostock, in January this year did not materialise and the central defender returned to team up with Heartland Football Club. His contract with the Naze Millionaires will run out as soon as the 2010 edition of the CAF Champions League and that could prompt a renewal. But Udoh is still attracting interest from foreign clubs especially from Turkey, Greece, Spain and France. For now, the career of the 19-year-old will continue in his newfound right-back role at Heartland FC until January next year when he could likely be heading for another try out in Europe to continue his career.
Likely destination: to remain with Heartland FC till January 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment