Die-hard fans of seven-time league champions Enyimba of Aba have all but lost patience with head coach Usman Shariff Abd’Allah whose puzzling refusal to start mercurial midfielder Chukwuka Onuwa more frequently, especially at the Enyimba Stadium has left them angry and deeply disillusioned.
Match going fans of the Peoples Elephant have never hidden their love for the player who they overwhelmingly demanded that the club sign from MFM at the start of the season, and the fact that the fan favourite has yet to start a single game at home this season has left the fans feeling shortchanged and led to very vocal demands from the stands for a starting spot for their hero especially at home in Aba.
One such instance where home fans made their feelings abundantly clear to Abd’Allah was the home tie against Remo Stars on Matchday 8, where Onuwa was introduced from the bench in the 71st minute and promptly enlivened what hitherto had been a drab match eventually scoring the winner ten minutes later. Cue bedlam in the stands with the cries of “Onuwa no more bench, Onuwa no more bench!” reverberating around the stadium as the fed-up fans sought to ensure Abd’Allah was left in no uncertain terms as to their feelings.
Abd’Allah, however, appears hellbent on testing the patience of the fans to breaking point with his blatant disregard for their feelings as his subsequent selections have shown. Indeed, fans point to his post-match comments after the Remo game where he, perhaps resentful of the affection shown to the player by the fans, hinted at plans to only use Onuwa sparingly as indicative of the coach’s deep-seated aversion to a player who is the reason a vast majority of fans pay their way to the stadium.
They wonder why a player with his immense quality has been restricted to just two starts and eight substitute appearances in 18 league matches this season, the last of which was an undignified time-wasting stunt in the 90th minute at home to Kwara United nearly one month ago.
Given Enyimba’s goalscoring struggles this season (they have scored a paltry 18 goals and failed to score in 9 of 18 matches this season), and Abd’Allah’s functional football, fans wonder why the coach has persisted in underutilizing the one player capable of creating goalscoring chances and helping to effect the more expansive playing style they crave especially at home where the Aba Elephants are expected to win their matches in style – the very reason why the gifted playmaker was signed. The widespread belief amongst fans is that the club would be safely ahead of the chasing pack in Group A and playing a much more exciting brand of football if Onuwa had been afforded more starts.
While Abd’Allah has cited a slight knock as reason why the playmaker has been left out of the last three matchday squads, busybuddiesng.com reliably gathered that the player has been fully match fit and training exceptionally well having completely recovered from the knock he suffered in training weeks ago.
In addition to the fans’ displeasure with Abd’Allah, it is understood that the club’s hierarchy is deeply unhappy that a player signed to great fanfare is effectively been frozen out by the manager. The club management is believed to be apprehensive of losing their prized asset with rival domestic and continental clubs ready to grab the much sought-after playmaker at the end of the season if the situation persists – a state of affairs that would definitely turn the fans against Abd’Allah.
Abd’Allah would do well to heed the fans demands and the feelers from his bosses when Enyimba tackle Wikki Tourists on Sunday in Aba and restore Onuwa to the starting line up or risk completely losing the respect of the fans and the trust of the club’s management.