Why MFM FC need fire and miracles to avoid relegation


Mountain of Fire Ministries FC’s journey to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is one of those fairy tales of the modern game.

After barely two seasons in the lower ranks of Nigerian football, the Prayer Warriors managed to achieve an unprecedented feat – by not just gaining promotion to the NPFL but becoming the first Lagos-based side in 22 years to do so.

A team built around the philosophy of its founder, Dr. DK Olukoya, MFM FC banks on prayers and hard work as potent weapons in surmounting their opponents.

This they brought into the NPFL with close to an hour prayer session on the pitch before kickoff with so much intensity and rhythmic vibrations.

“We play football with fire. Prayers without work is meaningless, so we work very hard and pray very hard,” club chairman, Godwin Enakhena, said prior to the start of the 2015/16 season.

“MFM’s success is due to prayers. After football, every other thing here is about prayers.”

Their debut in the topflight was an away fixture against continental campaigners, Nasarawa United and the Olukoya Boys miraculously stunned the host.

After four weeks in their maiden season, MFM FC were already in dreamland, winning three of their four games to temporarily assume second spot on the log.

They even went as far as topping the table after eight games – sweeping aside opposition along the way.

It was an unbelievable achievement for a relatively inexperienced team and manager.

However, they never knew their new found form was going to be short-lived and an abysmal run was in sight.

That poor run saw them move from first to ninth position with 27 points after the first stanza.

“I’m really worried about the form of my strikers. They score goals during training but in real match situations it becomes a tough battle to hit the back of the net,” head coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, said.

“We’ve also perfected strategies when it comes to set pieces but the same thing happens in real match situations. It’s a big worry for me but we shall find a proper antidote to it in training.”

The club began the second stanza with high hopes but sadly their fortunes deteriorated even further.

In 14 games played thus far, MFM managed just three victories against Heartland, Ikorodu United and Nasarawa – all at home.

Their 11 other fixtures saw them lose twice at home against Shooting Stars and Plateau United and are winless in seven consecutive games including a 3-1 defeat to Akwa United on Sunday.

This sudden slump has seen them slip from ninth after the first stanza to 16th after 32 games with 38 points.

“When this team gained promotion to the premier side, I confirmed in my heart that nothing would take us back to lower division again,” Ilechukwu prayed.

“I made that comment because it is not easy to play in the NNL struggling to gain promotion which we finally got and from the look of it all I don’t think there will be any reason for us pray and play to be returned to that level.”

With just four games left, the Prayer Warriors will however need a fresh source of fire if they are to avoid relegation.

They face Lobi Stars and IfeanyiUbah at home and face tricky trips to Enyimba and Niger Tornadoes.