As the world continues to grapple with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, sports has been the worst hit, suffering a loss of the millions it’s been played for – the fans. The fans have been shut out from attending match venues in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
The Nigeria professional Football League match venues are not an exception. The league since its suspension in March 2020 upon its return has not admitted fans into the stands. The lack of fans in stadiums has had its toll on the game, ranging from; matchday revenue, fanfare, beautiful and electrifying atmosphere and much more.
However, the biggest miss is a lack of connection between the fans and their team – the proverbial “12thMan.” While this is a strange time for players, it is stranger for newly acquired players into any club.
Enyimba did remarkable business in the off-season bringing in a few new faces who have continued to impress, stealing the headlines with each passing game. One of such remarkable acquisitions is goalkeeper John Noble.
The shot-stopper who joined from Cameroonian outfit Panthère of Nde has become the fans’ favourite, his outstanding start to life with the two-time CAF Champions League winners has won him the first choice position and a call-up to the national team.
While his performances have endeared him to the fans, John Noble is yet to feel the pulse of the game in front of one of the most intimidating atmospheres in Nigerian football, the Enyimba International Stadium, Aba.
Speaking to Enyimbafc.net, John Noble revealed that he feels the overwhelming love from the fans and can’t wait to play in front of them.
“Enyimba has been a team that I have watched from childhood and they have a lot of fans. A team that many love watching and cheering. Since I came to the team I have not played in front of the fans, and I really can’t wait for that day to come. There is a unique feeling when you play in front of your home fans, people cheering you up when you make a great save. I have not witnessed that, although most of our games are shown on TV, I really want to play in front of the fans to have that unique feeling.”
The NPFL has embarked on a mid-season break, and with news of Ghana’s sports ministry set to allow 25% of football fans into the stadiums, one can only hope for the best in the country.