Is FC IfeanyiUba Reaping From Investment? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Is FC IfeanyiUba Reaping From Investment?

Posted: Apr 9, 2016 at 3:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chibuike Chukwu LAGOS
Formally called Gabros FC of Nnewi, FC IfeanyiUba, as the club is to be known following the change of guard in its ownership, was a football club, which would derive fulfillment from avoiding relegation at the end of every season.
The club was initially acquired by Chief Gabriel Chukwuma when its name was Iyayi FC of Benin City before business man, Chief IfeanyiUba, finally bought it.
Before Chief Ubah’s acquisition, the club could rightly be called a perennial season strugglers with occasional drop-down to the lower rung of the league.
Like what happened when Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, billionaire businessman, acquired the then Spartans Football Club of Owerri, the coming of Chief Uba to Gabros breathe fresh air into the club.
He set the ball rolling by appointing a Bulgarian coach, Mitko Dobrev. Incidentally, last season was not a particularly good one for the club, as three coaches navigated it. Dobrev was sacked over poor performance.
He was replaced by the Ohafia, Abia State-born coach, John Obuh, who later faced similar fate after string of poor results. Then came Daniel Amokachi and Ike Shorounmu. Amokachi acted as the team’s technical director, while Obuh was the head coach.
Incidentally, IfeanyiUba FC merely maintained its elite league status, which led the owner to recall Dobrev, who was unveiled in January.
The highpoint of Dobrev’s second coming was the signing of four players and two coaches from Brazil. It also coincided with the arrival of players from various African countries including Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon. In all, an insider from the club, who craved anonymity, said Chief Uba might have spent over N700 million to reposition the once fragile and struggling side.
The amount might have been confirmed by one of the Brazilian players unveiled, Josema, when he addressed the media after their unveiling in February.
Josema, speaking through an interpreter, said: “We check in the internet to know about Nigerian football; we know the football is strong and fast and we are looking forward to adapting to the league.
“All contract signed are fine and we are happy to be here and to contribute our efforts in the league,” he said.
The amount mentioned by the source is actually whooping considering that in virtually all other clubs in the league, which are owned by the government, funding has been a huge challenge forcing some of the best legs to go to some obscure leagues around the world, which are far less glamorous than Nigerian league.
The consequence is that the domestic league will hardly have traditional teams like Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool (in the English Premier League); Real Madrid, Barcelona (in La Liga) and Bayern Munich, Borrusia Dortmund (in Bundesliga) among other leagues, which will hardly be relegated on account of high influx of quality players.
Also, the trend in Nigeria where a club wins the league and struggles to remain in the top flight the following season boil down to poor financial inflow, which brings about dearth of quality players.
In its week ten encounter against Plateau United in Nnewi, two of IfeanyiUba’s foreigners scored in either half to send the Anambra-based side to the top of the league for the first time in the current season. This is even as the side had been churning out eye-popping performances in the ongoing season
On the basis of this, can it be said that after the first teething season that, FC IfeanyiUba has started reaping from the huge financial investment it embarked upon after the change of ownership?
“Yes, I think so,” responds Rivers United Coach, Stanley Eguma, when Independent sought his view on this.
“I think the foreigners are really helping the team to stabilise. All they have to do is to remain focused,” he said.
Corroborating, Former international, Henry Nwosu, said “it is obvious that IfeanyiUba FC is riding on the behest of the talents in it.
“There is no doubt that the mix of Nigerian and foreign players is helping the team. That is for sure.”
Meanwhile, Mutiu Adepoju, another former player in the league, said “it is too early to say the club is enjoying the full complement of its foreign legion,” adding that he does not believe that the foreign imports were the reason the club was topping the table now.
“I don’t want to argue on that line because the season is still young. They can still drop from there; after all so many teams have topped the league at one time or the other, so it is not fair to say they are the reason why IfeanyiUba is there,” he said.
No matter the diverse opinion, one thing is sure. The huge expenses made on both foreign and local players by Chief Uba have now turned the former league strugglers into title contenders.