How I’ve missed this feeling, that of waking up and remembering that you got three points on the road the previous day. How sweet. It did happen a couple of times last season. Away at FC Taraba and Ilorin and Port Harcourt. No not just the away draws, that of three points is just a super sweet feeling.
I know we have a lot of Akwa United fans who read the blog daily. Some of my closest friends (and the missus probably too) are from state and it must hurt watching your team lose last night, sorry guys. Please allow us enjoy what you have enjoyed a couple of times already this season. A lot of our fans had become impatient with this team, wondering and asking why it can’t win on away turf. Some respite now.
Mr Aigbogun made a surprising selection. The back five picked itself but Dare Ojo was given a much deserved breather. The man had virtually played in everything we’ve played this season. Kelly the dribbler Kester took his place. Osadiaye returned in the team, Abalogu took the opposite flank. Nzube also got the nod ahead of Ibenegbu. The rest was Peter and Pyagbara, a surprising combo up top.
To be honest with you, Akwa United looked surprisingly tame especially in the opening moments. I think I know what happened. Someone had played into their minds how important beating the Aba Giants were. They gave us far too much respect. We were just walking through their midfield in those opening moments. Time and time again we found ourselves heading toward their goal, the problem was that we just didn’t seem to find the right choice when we did break toward their goal. Once Andrew found himself in acres of space but rather than run into their 18 and at goal, he opted to cross into the area, Ariwa gratefully cleared.
Our hosts eventually did get into the game but nothing really hurtful. Ubong Ekpai was running with intent toward our goal, Emma Anyanwu who was assigned to him got exposed by the former’s pace time and time again but not to calamitous effect. Having watched this Akwa United team play severally this season, I was surprised at their lack of bite. Afelokhai was busy of course but nothing really noteworthy.
We would eventually get the breakthrough after one foiled Akwa United attack. We sprung up the counter attack and Peter bulldozed his way toward their goal. He released Pyagbara in time and the striker made no mistakes with his left boot. Neat finish. For one who made a mess of a chance in Tunisia, it was surprising seeing such a finish with his weaker foot. 1-0.
We came close to a second minutes later with the two combining, but a defender cleared both player and ball before he could poke it beyond Kayode. They did try to get back on level terms but the lack of synchrony between their front men was just too evident. This however does not mean to discredit the Chinedu Udoji led defence. Emma Anyanwu, Ifeanyi George and Chima Akas kept alien attacks at bay, excellent and disciplined defending from the quartet.
They came at us with more intent in the second half but their poor finishing, our good defending and some slice of luck kept the scores untampered. We even had a chance to a second when one of them clattered onto Abalogu in the area as we sprung yet another counterattack. The referee took a long and hard look and nicely swept it under the rug. Felt all too familiar especially seeing we experienced that same thing in Enugu against Rangers. It looks like for many teams, their sole mission is to ensure they beat Enyimba this season.
Even the Supersport commentators were bewildered at the officiating. Twice in the game, at both injury times (at halftime and at full-time), we had attacks which his whistle foiled. The players felt they were denied chances to double the advantage. In the end though, it did not matter. We did just enough to keep the three points.
The reason for the celebration really isn’t about beating Akwa United, we really aren’t quite at the same level in any respect, so it’s not even about any bragging rights, it’s about fighting and winning the odds. Getting our first away points of a troubled season. We had to train on Saturday night without the floodlights. We had just flown in from Sousse in need of rest but mandated to play the game but like it’s said, adversity makes you tougher, stronger.
Fantastic performance by the boys and an undescribable feeling this morning. Someone pointed out to me that should Enyimba win all the outstanding games they currently have, they will be level on point with Rangers. Crisis? What crisis?
This. Is the springboard we need. Now this new team is convinced they can win points away from home. It gets better from here, we pray.
Just in case you didn’t hear, Pillars hammered Uncle Kadiri’s 3SC 6-0. Really crazy stuff.