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|Npl Players Who Left In 2009/10 by honeric01(m): 8:38pm On Nov 02, 2010|
by Ojeikere Aikhoje 02 November 2010, 13:25
Over the years, the Nigeria Premier League has remained a fertile ground for foreign clubs to scout for players.
Despite the criticism of the league, Nigerian players still remain in hot demand abroad.
The typical Nigerian player has the will to overcome odds and this explains why Nigerians strive even in cold regions like Ukraine, Russia and the Scandinavia.
As the 2010/11 season draws closer, SuperSport.com profiles players who left the Nigerian Premier League for clubs abroad in the 2009/10 season and others who were closely linked with foreign clubs.
Michael Uchebo: Enugu Rangers to VVV Venlo (Holland)
After a brilliant outing for one of Nigeria’s most popular clubs, Enugu Rangers, Uchebo caught the attention of scouts from modest Dutch side, VVV Venlo.
The former Rangers star was a member of Nigeria’s Under-20 squad at the 2009 Africa Youth Championship in Rwanda, but couldn’t make it to the World Youth Championship in Egypt.
Uchebo satisfied the club’s technical crew after trials and is now one of the club’s reliable players.
The former youth international officially joined Venlo in December 2009.
Nduka Ozokwo: Enugu Rangers to Boluspor (Turkey)
Nduka Ozokwo, who is in the mould of Manchester City’s Shaun Wright-Phillips came to limelight at Enugu Rangers. He is a product of Lawrence Akpokona’s coaching tactics.
The youngster got his break at his first and only premier league side, Enugu Rangers.
From Rangers he got an invitation to the Nigerian Under-20 squad and played in the Africa Youth Championship in Republic of Congo as well as the World Youth Championship in Canada 2007.
In July 2007, French side OGC Nice gave him a chance to play football in Europe. At the Côte d'Azur club he played alongside compatriot Onyekachi Apam, also a former Enugu Rangers player.
Unlike Apam, Ozokwo struggled to earn a regular shirt in the French side and eventually left the club on June 30, 2009.
His former club, Enugu Rangers grabbed him as he staged a comeback to the Nigerian Premier League.
However, his return to Rangers was short-lived as he joined Boluspor on January 29, 2010.
Ozokwo has returned to Rangers for the new season.
Uche Agba: Heartland to Club Sportif Sfaxien (Tunisia)
Tunisian side, Club Sportif Sfaxien, which is well known for their interest in players from the Nigerian league monitored Uche Agba during the 2009 Caf champions league when Heartland went all the way to the finals, but lost to eventual champions, TP Mazembe.
Agba was no doubt one of the best players in the Heartland squad.
Despite losing to Mazembe, he was linked to several clubs in the continent and Sfaxien eventually got their man.
King Osanga: Heartland to Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)
Osanga’s road to stardom began at the cadet level when he earned a place in Nigeria’s Under-17 National team. He won the African championship in Togo and also won the world cup in South-Korea, all in 2007.
His club career began at Akwa United and moved to Heartland in 2009 to boost their Caf champions league squad after representing Nigeria at 2009 Fifa world youth championship. <> The youngster justified his presence in the Heartland squad.
He was one of the most creative players as Heartland zoomed to the finals, but lost to TP Mazembe.
Interestingly, he played against Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel and this offered the Tunisians a good opportunity to watch him from close range. Heartland battered the Tunisians 3-0 at home and secured a draw on the road.
Like his former teammate, Agba, Osanga was also linked to several clubs in and outside Africa.
In November 2009, he was linked with a move to Tunisian top club, Etoile Sportive du Sahel, which has a strong association with players from the Nigerian league.
The likes of Ogechukwu Obiakor, Emeka Opara, Muri Ogunbiyi and Eric Frimpong are some of the players who have moved to Etoile from Nigeria.
On March 4, 2010, he got a dream move the Sousse based side.
Alex Nkume: Enugu Rangers to VVV Venlo (Holland)
Alex Nkume is another product of the Enugu Rangers football school.
Interestingly, Nkume joined Venlo in December 2009 with his Rangers teammate, Michael Uchebo.
Like Uchebo, he was with the Nigerian Under-20 team at the Rwanda 2009 africa youth championship, but missed the wyc in Egypt.
Nkume has since wormed his way into the first team of Venlo.
Stanley Okoro: Heartland to Almeria (Spain)
‘Little Messi’ as Okoro was called in Nigeria moved to Spanish side, Almeria, this year.
His five-star performance during the Fifa Under-17 World Cup hosted by Nigeria last year earned him global recognition. He was also a member of Heartland’s 2009 Caf champions league squad.
He is now a senior international.
Anthony Ujah: Warri Wolves to Lillestrom (Norway)
Ujah is a forward who began his career at FC Abuja.
From FC Abuja, he moved to Warri Wolves, in 2009 and left in January 2010 to sign for Lillestrøm, a club in Norway’s elite class.
Ujah made his debut on March 14, 2010 against Aalesunds FK.
Aziz Ansah: Heartland to FC Dallas (USA)
Aziz Ansah is an experienced Ghanaian international who has played in several leagues.
He gambled with a move to Heartland and it paid off as the Nigerian side reached the finals.
This earned him a return to the Black Stars. Ansah narrowly missed Ghana’s squad for the Angola 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Ghanaian moved to FC Dallas in America’s Major League Soccer in 2010, but after one month the contract was cancelled.
Eric Frimpong: Enyimba to Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)
Eric Asamoah Frimpong is a former Niger Tornadoes attacking midfielder-cum-forward who now plays for Tunisian side, Club Sportive Hammam-Lif on loan from Etoile du Sahel.
Eric, who is a younger brother of former Enyimba star and Ghanaian international, Joetex Frimpong, lives with his parents in Nigeria’s Northern city of Minna.
Like his elder brother, he started football in Minna and secured attention from premier league side, Niger Tornadoes.
He had a stint at amateur side, Bida Lions, in neighbouring Bida and finally signed a professional career with Tornadoes, a team that remains very close to his family.
In November 2009, he left Enyimba Aba for Etoile du Sahel and scored on his debut in the Tunis derby against rivals, Club Africain.
Etoile later loaned him to CSHL.
John Owoeri: Heartland to Ismaily (Egypt): Owoeri, who had stints at Holland’s Feyenoord and Belgium’s Westerlo, was at American side, Columbus Crew that has former NPL star, Emmanuel Ekpo.
However, the deal wasn’t fruitful and he returned to Heartland.
The good news is that Owoeri has headed for Egypt’s Ismaily after an impressive performance in the continent with Heartland.
Fengor Ogude: Warri Wolves to Valerenga (Norway)
Ogude made his mark at Warri Wolves and also became one of the popular players in the domestic scene.
Interestingly, he sealed the move to Norway’s Valerenga at a time he was invited to the Super Eagles camp on the eve of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier against Madagascar.
Omonigho Temile: Warri Wolves to Valleta (Malta)
Former Nigerian international, Omonigho Temile, started his first campaign abroad in Bulgaria.
However, he returned to home town club, Warri Wolves, in the Nigerian league after an uneventful spell in Russia.
Less than a year after his return, Temile secured a deal at Malta’s Valleta.
Ahmed Musa: Kano Pillars to VVV Venlo (Holland)
Former Kano Pillars star, Ahmed Musa, earned legendary status in the Nigerian League after setting a new All-time goal record of 18 goals to erase the previous efforts of legends like Ishaya Jatau, Eugene Salami and Akarandut Orok.
The feat earned Ahmed a contract at modest Dutch side, VVV Venlo, where has joined two other Nigerians, Michael Uchebo and Alex Nkume.
Indeed, it was a great year for the young Ahmed as he became a junior international and also got a full international cap.
Efe Ambrose: Kaduna United to FC Ashdod (Israel)
Kaduna United fans were really sad to see their famous star, Efe Ambrose, leave for Europe.
Ambrose has been a loyal staff of the Kaduna side and was a member of Nigeria’s squad at the last Olympics, in China, where the team won silver in the football event.
Eugene Salami: Niger Tornadoes to Al-Ahly (Egypt)
Salami was unknown at Lobi Stars, but his story changed when he joined Niger Tornadoes.
He scored 17 goals and became a target of foreign teams like Belgium’s Westerlo and Israel’s Maccabi Haifa.
The forward is on trials at Africa’s most successful side, Al-Ahly in Egypt.
Solomon Okpako: Kano Pillars to Palonios (Greece)
Okpako had a great time at Kano Pillars when the club campaigned in the Caf Champions League.
He continued last term and was scouted by modest Greek side, Palonios.
Signswonder Chibambo: Heartland to El-Masry (Egypt)
Zambian International, Signswonder Chibambo made history as the first East African to play in Nigeria.
The settled at Heartland and became a favourite of the fans. He made an impact as Heartland reached the 2009 Caf Champions League finals.
Chibambo moved to Egypt’s El-Masry, but later returned to his Nigerian team.
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