Captain of Enyimba FC, Mfon Udoh, says some players in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) have a “phobia” for winning away matches.
Statistics over the years have shown that compared to the top leagues in the world, there are, by far, fewer away wins in the Nigeria top flight. Home victories are mostly common and often seen as the “normal thing”, with away draws even celebrated as triumphs by some teams.
Several factors have been identified as reasons for such poor away showings, including bad officiating in favor of the home side, intimidation from home fans towards the visiting team, and the defensive mentality of coaches of visiting sides.
Despite the many challenges on the road, Udoh, who was the league’s top scorer in the 2013/2014 season, thinks players also have their own share of the blame.
“So many factors lead to that, but Nigerian players still have this Phobia of wining away matches”. Udoh said in an interview with busybuddiesng.com.
After match-day 32, the highest number of away wins recorded by any team in the current league campaign with 6 games to the end of the season is two, and that feat has been achieved by only three teams—Plateau United, MFM FC and Sunshine Stars.
Udoh’s Enyimba FC, who are seven-time Nigerian league champions, have won just a game away from home this season and have drawn thrice on their travels. Nevertheless, the People’s Elephants are still in contention for a place in the top-three, which would guarantee them a ticket to next season’s CAF Champions League or Confederation Cup.
The two-time African champions are currently 4th, just a point adrift of 3rd place and need to get a positive result from at least one of their final three away games. The recent emphatic 4-2 away win by Sunshine Stars seems to be changing players’ mentality towards the possibility of being successful away from home.
“I think the mentality is trying to degrade because a lot of results have been posted away, people are winning four goals to two in away games,” Udoh said. “Though we are not doing well in away games this season but I believe this last lap we are going to get it right’.
Enyimba last won the NPFL title in 2015 recording five wins and eight draws away from home.