When Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries FC narrowly avoided the drop from the Nigerian Professional Football League last season, few were surprised that the new boys had flown close to the wind. However, they've learned their lessons and have began the new season strongly, with star forward Stephen Odey performing with the kind of class that suggests that MFM FC are set for a more successful campaign this time around.
The Olukoya Boys secured a hard-fought 2-1 home victory against table toppers Plateau United thanks to an Odey brace which took his tally for the season to 10 goals. He bagged nine goals for the whole of last season but to reach double digits already after just 10 games highlights the youngster's quality. The win also lifts MFM up to second place, one point from the summit of the NPFL table with a game in hand.
Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu has been full of praise for Odey, often describing him as the best player in the world. Doubtless, the youngster's form will be key to any success MFM FC enjoy this season.
Asides from burying the ball in the back of the net, Odey’s technique sets him apart from other NPFL strikers. He has scored extra-ordinary goals, boosting morale on the terraces, and has developed an exciting partnership with Sikiru Olatunbosun.
There's no other duo in the NPFL with as strong a telepathy like these two. Olatunbosun has assisted Odey four four goals already, and with 13 goals between them, no frontline in the current NPFL is that lethal.
Despite all the praise Odey is getting, some are skeptical as to whether he can maintain this form for the rest of the campaign. Perhaps he will continue to do well and finish as this season’s top scorer but what of the next campaign, or if he decides to move to greener pastures?
A parallel can be drawn with Godwin Obaje, who finished as the league’s top marksman last season with Wikki Tourists, but has struggled to find his feet this term following his big money move to FC Ifeanyi Ubah. Another example could be Mfon Udoh, the leading scorer in NPFL history. Having scored 23 goals in the 2014/2015 campaign, he failed to register a goal the following season.
Will Odey be able to continue his fine form for the rest of the campaign, and can he prove to be more than just a one-season wonder.
From all indications, it does not look like the Lagos-based team would falter in the manner they did previously. They are in a much stronger position now compared to last season, and with motivation so high, they can only keep improving as long as squad harmony remains intact.
When Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr named his squad for the upcoming international friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso, there was displeasure with the German not selecting enough home-based players. While there were question marks over some of the players Rohr did pick, one NPFL player who did merit a call was Odey.
Of all the forwards chosen by Rohr for the friendlies, no one is in better form than Odey. Some think it is too early to call him up to the Super Eagles camp as he might falter on the big stage having had no previous experience, but if the chance was given to him, he's surely primed to make the most of it.
There might still be uncertainty over Odey’s consistency in future despite the quality and talent he has shown, however, he is the hottest property in town right now and surely scouts both home and abroad are keeping tabs on to lure him away from the Agege Stadium. NPFL and MFM FC fans would be wise to enjoy the attacker while they can!