Olisa Ndah: What does the future hold?

Olisa Ndah, GOALGOAL
  • Olisa Ndah, Orlando Pirates, November 2021 Backpagepix

    Highly rated but little known in SA

    When the dreadlocked defender arrived at Orlando Pirates from then-Nigerian champions Akwa United in July 2021 little was known about him in the South African fraternity, but the Nigeria international was rated among the best centre-backs based in his home country at the time. Ndah was quick to establish himself as a regular at the Soweto giants as the Buccaneers mounted a serious challenge for the Caf Confederation Cup and the team finished as runners-up with the lanky defender having proven why he is considered to be of high quality in his home country.

    However, there was no club success at Pirates for the man nicknamed Van Ndah due to his passing ability which has been compared to that of Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk. The Buccaneers displayed erratic form at times during their the Premier Soccer League campaign and they disappointingly finished sixth in the league - failing to secure a top-three finish in the league. There was also no joy for Van Ndah and his Bucs teammates in cup competitions as the Soweto giants were eliminated from the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup.

  • Olisa Ndah Orlando Piratesbackpagepix

    The story of last season

    Ndah made his debut for Pirates in the original Soweto Derby clash against Swallows - helping Bucs keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win in September 2021 before starting again in a 2-1 victory over Chippa United a week later. However, the left-footed player couldn't help the Buccaneers avoid defeats to Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs with many questioning Bucs' ability to challenge for the league championship. Despite his side producing inconsistent results, Ndah was dishing out eye-catching performances at the heart of the team's defence.

    The former Remo Stars player played some of his best football towards the end of the year 2021 as the Soweto giants kept clean sheets in three consecutive matches. His club form earned him a call-up to the Nigeria squad ahead of the 2021 Afcon finals in Cameroon. Upon the resumption of the PSL season, Van Ndah continued to bring defensive stability to the Pirates defence with the team losing just twice from eight league games with the reliable defender on the pitch this year. Ndah, who was not registered to play in the Confederation Cup qualifying rounds, was also influential for Bucs in the group stage. 

    Ndah dazzled for the four-time PSL champions as they won four of their six matches in the Confederation Cup Group B  and lost once, before helping the Buccaneers overcome Simba of Tanzania and Libyan side Al Ahli in the knockout phase. However, Bucs were defeated by Morocco's RS Berkane on penalties in the final which was played in Ndah's home country Nigeria with the gifted player playing the entire match. Van Ndah played 31 matches across all competitions for Pirates with the team keeping 14 clean sheets in the process. There were calls for him to be nominated for the PSL Defender of the Season award having impressed with his ability to influence matches with his sublime defending and passing ability when Bucs attacked.

  • Olisa Ndah of Nigeria during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals.BackpagePix.

    Any transfer rumours?

    There are no reports nor rumours presently indicating that Ndah could leave the Buccaneers following his impressive debut season with the team. Van Ndah is contracted to Bucs until June 2024 having signed a three-year deal when he joined the 1995 African champions from Akwa for an undisclosed fee. Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza has proved to be a selling club boss when European teams come calling for one of his prized assets with the right offer. Players such as Andile Jali, Edwin Gyimah, Kermit Erasmus and Lyle Foster have all been sold by Bucs to European clubs in the last nine years. 

    There was speculation suggesting that the former Sharks player had caught the eye of an unnamed Swedish club midway through the recent season after he was included in the Super Eagles squad for the 2021 Afcon finals. However, the rumours cooled down with Ndah returning to Pirates following Nigeria's elimination from the continental tournament where he had played against Guinea-Bissau. The Asaba-born player featured as a substitute in the 76th minute with the three-time African champions keeping a clean sheet in front of many international scouts who were on the lookout for talent at Africa's biggest football competition. 

    Ndah's representative, Mike Makaab, opened up about the West African player's chances of securing a move to a European club from the Soweto giants earlier this year. The experienced agent stated that his client is destined to return to Europe one day having played for Maltese clubs Sliema Wanderers, Flamrun Spartans and Sirens. Locally, Sundowns are known to be one club which is currently in the market for a left-footed centre-back similar to Ndah, but the billionaire-owned club is yet to be linked with the former Delta Stars player.  As things stand Ndah will be staying put at Pirates for one more season.

  • Olisa Ndah, Orlando Pirates, September 2021Backpagepix

    One big fear for 2022/23

    Injuries limited the former Nigeria under-23 international to 21 matches in the PSL. At the age of 24, Ndah should be spending more time on the pitch in order to fasten his development as a player. If the ball-playing defender stays injury-free in the upcoming term he will play more matches and become an even better player.

  • Olisa Ndah, Orlando Pirates, August 2021Orlando Pirates

    One big hope for 2022/23

    For the nomadic player to play regularly for the Buccaneers in order to regain the form which saw him secure a spot in the Super Eagles. Ndah is yet to be called up to the national team since the 2021 Afcon finals and the Nigerian Football Federation recently brought in Jose Peseiro as the new Super Eagles head coach. The way for Van Ndah to return to the national team is by impressing the Portuguese coach with his displays at Pirates.

  • Olisa Ndah, Orlando Pirates, October 2021Backpagepix

    GOAL’s prediction for 2022/23

    Van Ndah will look to carry on from where he left off in his first season with Pirates. If Ndah plays week in and week out he will definitely establish himself as one of the best players in the country. When he is in good form Ndah is able to influence matches and help Bucs challenge for trophies while also making a strong case for him to be recalled to the Super Eagles squad.