The 2017 mid-season transfer window opens up for SociaLiga clubs on Tuesday, 1st August and closes on the 31st. Judging by their performances in the league thus far as well as examining lingering problems from the 2016 season, we’ll be giving hot takes as well as recommending moves we feel teams should be making to bolster their playoff push. In this piece, we take a look at the Island Conference.
For faithful followers of Knights FC, their common frustration must be their failure to properly rectify lingering issues from last season. With just 1 win this season, they seem to have regressed from the team that valiantly pushed Saints right to the very end last year. Looking at their attack, they’ve scored 3 times in the league with all 3 coming from set-pieces; a corner-kick, a free-kick and a penalty-kick. On one hand, it’s cool to know your team is deadly from set-pieces, on the other hand, its worrying to know your team is having a hard time putting the ball in the back of the net from open play. Star striker, Abdul-Jabaar has struggled for goals this season and is yet to get on the scoreboard. This follows the same pattern of his performance from last season where he scored just once in the first four games before ending the season on a high with 5 goals in his final 5 games. While Jabaar’s qualities in attack are undoubtedly one of the best in the league, you do have to point fingers at the management for not having proper back-up plans for his cold periods. With the Knights FC sitting just 1 point clear off the bottom of the Island Conference, you do feel they have to make a push for a proven goal scorer to take some pressure off Jabaar. We wouldn’t suggest hijacking the Nuel deal from the other Knights team but, hey, who wouldn’t love some drama?
While their defense remains their strongest unit, they have been weakened by Samson Chukwu’s absence. Samson, who’s the reigning Defender of the Year, wasn’t registered as a player this season for reasons still unclear, and their defense hasn’t exactly been as rock solid as they would have hoped with the 2-0 Super Cup loss to Saints as proof. Perhaps, an additional defender to the pack wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Regardless of these holes in the Knights team, they remain one of the favorites to make the play-offs. And, according to the little birds flying around, they already have their signing sealed and training with the team as they patiently wait for the 1st of August to officially register them.
The Guns FC are in danger of going down the path Reds FC went last season; a gung-ho team with an enjoyable attack but dreadful defense. Just like Reds FC last season, Guns FC have ‘seemed’ very unlucky in games so far winning just 1 in 4, although, we must add, they are known for their slow start in competitions. They’ve scored 4 times this season – the second-best record in the league – but have conceded 6 times already, the worst in the league and, perhaps, that’s their biggest worry.
The Guns’ problem in defense hasn’t exactly been a personnel problem, but rather a communication problem. Save for the freekick by Knights on Matchday 3, all goals conceded can be traced to the poor communication amongst the backline. In instances when fullbacks push up, Guns center-backs remain compact rather than space out with the defensive midfielder dropping back a bit to form a temporary 3-man defense line hence, allowing oppositions to exploit the gaps left by fullbacks. In instances when the center-backs have rightly spaced out (when fullbacks have pushed forward), the defensive midfielder slightly wandered out of position, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the defense. While both goals conceded against Alphas and the 3rd goal conceded against Saints were all brilliantly taken by their scorers, you do have to admit these 3 goals could have been easily avoided with a better defensive structure. It’s not a surprise that in games where they’ve defended in fine fashion (against Raineri Ghosts & Knights) they’ve picked up 4 points from a possible 6.
With a relatively competent attack, a major addition to the defense should be Guns’ top priority heading into the window. A defensive midfielder with excellent positioning wouldn’t be bad either.
It took a while to get going but on a waterlogged pitch on Matchday 3, Alphas broke the deadlock and got their first win as well as first set of goals. Alongside Raineri, they’ve been one of the unluckiest teams in the league thus far. A late freekick by Cubs’ goalkeeper, Adeola Adebayo (@deolabarthez) condemned them to an opening day defeat despite their dominance in the game. The reverse fixture on MD2 should have seen them get all 3 points but some poor finishing coupled with 2 goal-line clearances from Cubs saw the game end in a goalless draw.
Alphas’ struggles this season has been a mixture of poor finishing and a tactical set-up. While their attack has raised some questions, it does seem like they would soon get their acts together and have a decent run of games. In defense, their favored high line hasn’t exactly worked. On MD3, Saints repeatedly exploited this, often bypassing the midfield and launching it straight to the attack. It took a Man of the Match worthy display from Alphas’ goal keeper, Adelodun Tope (@topeadelodun) to keep the scoreline at a respectable 1-0.
While they may be out of a playoff spot having played one game more than everyone else, it’s surprisingly hard to point to a glaring weakness in this Alphas team.
The Saints have 2 very key things going for them; quality players and a large quantity of these quality players. Statistically, they’re the best attacking team in the league as well as the best defensive team and they have a 13-games unbeaten run to back this up. They need no new signings.
After a year on the sidelines, Cubs’ return has been a pleasant one. What makes the return even sweeter is the internal challenges they’ve faced trying to sign players. Sitting out the SociaLiga Maiden season in 2016 meant most of their non-contracted players left on a free to join other clubs, most notably Emeka Ikondu (@1playmeka) who’s become a key figure for Saints FC. Getting the old crew back together, as you would imagine, has been a burden. New signing, Dolapo (@OsheyD) has been nursing an injury since the opening day – in which he scored a goal – and has missed the team’s last two games. In spite of these, however, Cubs have somehow managed to grab 8points scoring just 3 goals. Even more impressive is that they’re one of two teams yet to lose a game this season.
Regardless of their very impressive start, there’s a certain “smash & grab” feel to their approach in games; an approach which has worked but isn’t a guaranteed formula for success. Cubs have made early moves in the market with two major targets reportedly on their shortlist most notably for a Citizen. Several bids are rumored to have been made for Citizens’ midfielder, Eboreime Akhogbai (@akweezi) and Citizens, who insist the unsettled player isn’t for sale, are said to have rejected all the offers, one of which was reported to be the biggest offer for a SociaLiga player in history. It’s no surprise Cubs have made a move for the midfielder. He’s been one of the bright lights for Citizens and his goals would boost this Cubs side as they aim to win the league in their very first try. Teknon midfielder, Kante, is the second player rumored to be on their shopping list this summer. With Teknon out of action for a while, a loan move, at the very least, should see the industrious midfield join the Cubs as they aim to dethrone Saints.
Originally posted on The 12th Player