Unless Lobi Stars’ Anthony Okpotu re-enacts Emem Eduok’s 2014 form against FC Ifeanyiubah on final day, Mfon Udoh’s record 23 goals in a season is on the verge of surviving a third season.
While all eyes were on Odey all season, Okpotu has stole in. His goal from the spot last Sunday means he is tied with Odey on 18. With Odey’s move to FC Zurich, the coast is clear for Okpotu to emerge top scorer with another strike against FC Ifeanyiubah on final day.
Everything is pointing towards Udoh’s record surviving this season unless Okpotu does an Eduok. Can ‘The Panther’ produce six goals against FC Ifeanyiubah this Saturday? That will take his tally to 24, a new record.
In 2014, Emem Eduok, then donning the colours of Dolphins (now Rivers United), scored all six goals as Dolphins beat Nembe City 6-0.
That is still a league record as no other player has scored six times in a Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) game.
That feat at the time took Eduok’s tally to 19. Eduok would score Dolphins consolation in a 1-3 loss to Bayelsa United the next matchday to grab his 20th.
Incidentally, that same matchday, Mfon Udoh grabbed a brace in Enyimba’s 2-1 away win over Nembe City taking his tally to 20. At 20, both players had equalled the record at the time held by Jude Aneke.
With both tied on 20 goals on Matchday 36, Udoh pulled away with the last two matches. He scored Enyimba’s solitary goal in the 1-1 draw with Dolphins on Matchday 37 before scoring twice in the 3-1 defeat of Pillars on the final day.
Thus he ended the season on 23 goals, a new NPFL record.
Considering the form shown by Stephen Odey earlier this season, many thought Udoh’s record would be eclipsed.
By the halfway mark, Odey had 14 goals, nine short of equalling the record while 10 more would set a new record. With 19 matches to play in the second stanza, Odey was deemed capable of setting a new record.
But just like Godwin Obaje, last season, Odey’s potency reduced during the second stanza. A combination of transfer imbroglios, and national team invitations did not help his focus on the target. He scored just four more goals bringing his tally to 18.
Interestingly, Okpotu is not new to scoring many in a game. He has scored three hat-tricks this season. So it means nine of his 18 goals have come in just three games.
With the WAFU Cup fixtures shifted till Monday making the invited players available for their teams’ final day ties, FC Ifeanyiubah defenders would face a highly ambitious Okpotu.
Do they have antidotes to ‘The Panther’s’ venom? Just a goal would ensure Okpotu ends his most productive season with due recognition.