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Stephen Odey: Nigerian League’s Deadly Force on Goal and Defender’s Worst Nightmare

An athlete in football boots, Stephen Odey is Nigeria’s Premier League deadliest goal-getter.

His form this season has been nothing short of terrific, scoring 14 goals in the combined 19 games he has featured in so far.

The double digit goals, a sharp contrast from the 9 he managed last campaign, is an indication of how he has improved this term.

Mountain of Fire and Miracles Football Club (MFMFC) was miles away from its current second position the previous season, staring relegation in the face.

This ongoing term, the club shocked many by staying on top of the table since February this year, slipping off to second only in recent weeks.

The Lagos-based club’s meteoric rise hasn’t been without the massive input of 19-year-old goal assassin, Odey.

In a season the Agege Stadium outfit was not expected to pose any meaningful threat to the traditional title-chasers, Odey stepped up. The young forward has carried the club single-handedly on his shoulders with his goals producing a magical performance.

He has scored goals of all sorts –from left, right, out of the box and even improbable ones. With a tally of 14 goals and counting, making him the league’s current highest scorer, Odey is also his club’s all-time goal scorer plundering in 23 goals.

A quick-paced marksman, capable of blasting balls with either leg, the Nigerian is just nine goals shy of equaling Enyimba attacker Mfon Udoh’s 23 goals in a season. 24-year-old Udo is the only forward ever to pull off such a feat in the 14-year history of the Nigerian Premier League and is on a possible brink of being threatened or better yet, surpassed, if Odey’s burning fire for scoring goals doesn’t cease.

It’s 17 games left until the end of the league and should the MFM striker stay off the treatment table, gaffer Ilechukuw Fidelis will be a happy man.

MFMFC’s unprecedented stride has been undoubtedly down to Odey’s form but the forward does have a partner in crime with whom he has combined to wreck defenses. Sikiru Olatunbosun is his name.

Olatunbosun’s the man whose stunning left-footed volley in February is a contender for the FIFA Puskas Award. The two have forged a partnership that has not only got pundits talking but sent chills down the spines of even the rockiest of defenses in the championship.

Two of Odey’s first career hat-trick against Lobi Stars in January this year, are a result of Olatunbosun’s assists. Story of this evolving and solid partnership with 1,620+ minutes to end this season’s campaign, would only mean goose pumps for the opponents’ back-four.


At start of this unfolding season Odey was granted the League Bloggers Award (LBA) – the month’s most prized individual silverware. Odey smacked in four goals in four consecutive games in February to warrant him the accolade.

Founded by a Muslim Tyin Gafaar but handed to the church without a penny involved in the takeover, MFMFC was formed in 2007. Since then, the club hasn’t had many breakthroughs save for the Church World Cup title, won in India, and its sole cup in the trophy cabinet.

The narrative could however change if the serenity in the dressing room remains intact, players team up to play collectively, and injuries don’t halt the side’s go-to-guy for goals.

However, as Odey’s career take-off earns him rave reviews, there lingers some ounce of worry stemming from the troubles that plagued previous league golden boot winners. Repeating the same feat of top scorer the following season is hard to follow with goal profligacy known to befall once prolific scorers.

Udo, the league all-time scorer’s tale is a telling example. The ex-Calabar Rovers’ man boomeranged in 23 goals in the 2014/15 season but struggled to replicate the same performance that earned him an invitation to the Super Eagles.

Godwin Obaje is another. The 20-year-old netted 19 times for Wikki Tourists last year which secured him a trial with Russian outfit Spartak Moscow. The Spaghetti-legged scorer returned upon failing to secure a European contract and instead joined well-to-do club, Ifeanyi Ubah.

The 2014 title winners made 20-year-old Obaje its highest paid player in the Nigerian top flight in a three-year deal. That ambition was spurred by strong hopes that Obaje will chip in as many goals however, as it turns out, the striker has managed only six so far.

These qualms are what has been fueling fears over whether Odey won’t be another one season wonder. Nevertheless, club faithful will pray that is not the case for this budding star.

Of particular concern at the moment for coach Ilechukwu, is guiding his star player to a stellar career without a major injury, which has so far kept suitors off the striker’s back.

Interest will be high at home and abroad at end of the season. Cash-rich clubs should fancy testing the MFMFC board’s resolve with tempting bids for the attacker. On how the club’s management reacts, will determine Odey’s future.

For now, he remains Mountain Top’s striker preoccupied with scoring goals whenever he can, which is almost all the time.


Featured photo: Courtesy of Premium Times

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