6th July, 2011
Former Nigerian champions, Lobi Stars, look good to equal the eight game unbeaten record of modest Bukola Babes after sharing the points with the struggling Juth FC last weekend.
Lobi Stars, which is tutored by football administrator- turned club coach, Dominic Iorfa, increased their unbeaten run to seven in the Nigeria Premier League and will keep a date with 3rd placed Kano Pillars on Wednesday.
The team is yet to lose in six consecutive matches against Gombe United, Niger Tornadoes, Warri Wolves, Kwara United, Crown and Heartland before Sundayâ€™s draw at Juth.
â€œWe want to make an impact in the league and the best way is to get good results on the road and at home,â€ one of the youngsters that have turned Lobi into a formidable team this term, Ezekiel Bassey, told SuperSport.com.
Bassey, who is a rookie in the NPL, got a rare chance to join the Under-23 team after impressive outings with the team this term.
The consistent results have moved Lobi to 7th on the log with 47 points, 10 points behind Sunshine Stars.
The Makurdi side used to be one of the big spenders in the league.
In 2004, Iorfa splashed a record N4million to secure Super Eagles star, Taye Taiwo, from Gabros International, which made the A.C. Milan star the most expensive league star at that time.
This turned out to be good business when Taiwo eventually moved to former European champions, Olympic Marseille.
In recent years, the management of the club made a U-turn and now operate on a shoe-string budget. Interestingly, Lobi which also contracted high-profile coaches in the past is having a new lease of life under Iorfa, a former international, who played football in several European and Asian leagues.
The former board member of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) commands attention wherever he goes. He loves to be the centre of attention
Iorfa has quietly established himself as a coach in the NPL and like he told SuperSport.com after his team lost at Kwara United during the first round: â€œThere is no coaching vacancy at Lobi. Iâ€™m the coach here. Take my words, this team will do well.â€
The decisionâ€™s to taste life in the dug-out as a coach has turned out to be a good move considering his status as an administrator, who is known for hiring and firing coaches.
Well known as a speed star during his active career and admired by former Super Eagles boss, Manfred Hoener, Iorfa played at the Seoul â€™88 Olympics, but failed to establish himself as a regular at time the legendary Rashidi Yekini gradually wormed his way into the hearts of Nigerians as the goal-king.
However, he made history as the first Nigerian to move to England from another team in Europe, when he left Belgian side, Royal Antwerp for Queens Park Rangers in a deal worth Â£145,000.
Iorfa is the first Nigerian to play for Turkish side, Galatasaray. He also played in Scotland, Hong Kong, China and the Republic of Ireland.
The Lobi Stars bench includes former ASEC Mimosas and Nigerian star, John Zaki as well as former Enyimba star, Ode Ogar, who joined the coaching profession after an off-the-pitch accident, punctured his career.
Zaki and Ogar also played for the club.
The second round of the league has seen the club rising on the 20-team NPL log following the injection of new players.
Andrew Igado, who left the club returned to his home-town club after an uneventful stint at Niger Tornadoes.
The decision to come home to help Lobi Stars has turned out to be the right move for the former Coca-Cola FA cup winner.
Lobi Stars have been playing their home matches away from home due to the poor state of the Aper Aku Stadium.
The team started the season at Jalingo and had to relocate to Bauchi due to the poor state of the turf.