Sofapaka’s set piece magician Noah Abich has defied age and lowly league positioning to win the October Sportpesa Footballer of the Month Award. The erstwhile unheralded 30 year-old will henceforth watch his replays in the giant LG television screen that comes with the award in addition Sh100000 cash prize.
Abich’s artistry in October hauled his struggling team closer to survival as he created two goals with inch perfect free-kicks during their shock 3-2 victory over AFC Leopards, one week after netting a mind boggling goal in Sofapaka’s 2-1 win over Muhoroni Youth.
The award will no doubt add impetus to Sofapaka’s survival struggle as they make one final push to stay afloat in this Saturday’s season ender against Thika United. The 30 year-old defender joined Sofapaka in June after leaving Mathare United unceremoniously at the beginning of 2016 season.
Together with other veterans deemed to be at the twilight of their careers, the golden oldies have turned Sofapaka from a certain relegation team to possible participants in 2017 Sportpesa Premier League.
The solo performance by Noah Abich in October eclipsed everyone in the league leading to a land side victory in the polls for player of the month award. Abich made to into the three man shortlist alongside brawny Tusker defensive midfielder Hashim Sempala who has immensely helped the brewers plug a leaky back-line and the remodeled burly Gor Mahia forward Enoch Agwanda.
A total of nine players had been nominated for the gong including Tusker duo Allan Wanga and David Okelo, Jared Obwoge of Chemelil Sugar, Sofapaka custodian Mathias Kigonya and Eric ‘Marcelo’ Ouma of Gor Mahia. Closer scrutiny however, knocked out six players leaving Abich, Sempala and Agwanda to duel in the final round.
The creative former Mathare United, Tusker, AFC Leopards and Sony Sugar defender then garnered 19 votes to beat Sempala and Agwanda who respectively polled 12 and eleven. He joins Timothy Otieno (Posta Rangers), Mohamed Sharif (Bandari), Wycliffe Ochomo (Muhoroni Youth), Khalid Aucho (Gor Mahia), Hillary Echesa (Chemelil Sugar), Kenneth Muguna and Wesley Kemboi both of Western Stima in the recipient list of the prestigious award this year.
With his team teetering on the brink of relegation, Abich, normally short of words issued a rallying call to his mates ahead of a league tie that could end Sofapaka’s eight year top flight tenancy.
“I’m so happy to be recognized but there is no time to celebrate as we are all anxiously looking forward to the weekend fixtures. Our fates are hanging and i hope this award galvanizes the squad to do well and hopefully get a good result in the other determining game.” Abich said at the club’s training base in Eastleight High School
“I’ve had a not so impressive year, having to sit out the first half then joining a club deep in relegation but together we have united for a common cause which is to stay up and through the tribulations we have faced as a club we retain hope of playing in top flight next year. The first leg was not impressive but we just want to do well in the remaining game and let God take care of the rest.” he added
Abich’s October performance caps the best run for Sofapaka in 2016 as the club’s stand in coach John Baraza also made it into the nominee’s list for Coach of the Month Award. Their 0-1 loss to Sony Sugar however, hampered his success chances but Abich stood out to emerge the best among players in the league.