Just before Kick-off, ‘safe hands Theo’ said, “There will be no mistakes from the team against FC Ifeanyi Ubah”. If there were some butterflies dancing ‘shoki’ in my tummy, those words totally and completely froze them off. I mean knowing the struggles we have had in recent times at the Umuahia stadium, it was relieving to get such assurances prior to Kick-off.
But anyone can say anything before Kick-off, you’d argue and I totally agree with you but more vital was the fact that someone within the team had the team focused on the task that needed to be done. That’s all you require, really. You don’t want your team underestimating an opponent because we are now unbeaten in six matches, you want them totally committed to attacking the threat before it, one game at a time.
Mr Aigbogun’s team selection was quite interesting. Ibenegbu continued in the middle with Kester behind him. Nzube’s red card meant Mfon Udoh had to return to the line-up. Abu Azeez and Ugoo continued in front while Chima Akas and Daniel Etor back from the Under-23 camp were quickly drafted back into the team.
Dare Ojo retained his place at Right Back and our new center back outlook Udoji-Ikeh kept their Union on and rosy. This tie ended 4-0 last season with four different players getting on the scoresheet. Interestingly, none of that four started. In fact, just one made the matchday squad- Peter Onyekachi was on the bench. The other three goalscorers on the day Andrew Abalogu, Ezekiel Bassey and Razak Aliyu are well, somewhere in the
From the go, two things were clear. The hunger of our attack and the ferocity of the tackles from both teams. By full-time, there had been 35 fouls committed by both teams, (20-15). Not totally surprising I’d say, the Umuahia surface is a very interesting surface. But of course with more games played there, we are finding our rhythm now, learning to win there as it is what we are stuck with right now as we eagerly anticipate a return back home. Abu Azeez, Mfon Udoh and Ugochukwu Leonard missed a few chances in the early running before Ibenegbu volleyed home in the 17th minute.
We had chances to further stretch our lead as they did have a couple of opportunities to get a leveler but the goals were hard coming. It was a bit worrying because in our last three home games, we had taken a lead only to see us get pegged back by opponents who equalized. Heartland, Lobi and Niger Tornadoes all responded to our early lead so we just needed to defend well and take one of our chances for that insurance goal.
It did come. Midway in the second half when Akas, Azeez, Mfon and Etor did a Barcelona. Take a look at this amateurish clip of the goal. Really lovely stuff. At that point of course our visitors were on their knees, there was no coming back and they knew it.
Christian Pyagbara made his return to the team and did look lively but obviously he knows he would have to fight his way back into contention by showing the coach that he is keen on playing football. Peter Onyekachi did come on at some point but that was just for appearance sake I know.
All in all a pleasurable evening and it feels good having played early, we can watch as the drama unfolds all across the country this evening when other teams play.
We are up to 9th, into the first half of the table for the first time this season and higher and higher we go.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is an Elephant coming down the road and it is trampling everything and everyone standing on its path.
Picture, courtesy LMC Media.