Victorious Akwa climb Mt of Fire into 2nd position


 Akanimo Kufre

Ubong Friday and Christian Pyagbara goals on Sunday lifted Akwa United to Second spot on the League Table above the Mountain of Fire Ministry, MFM FC.

Akwa United came from a goal down to beat Nasarawa United 2-1 in a Nigeria Professional Football League Match Day 31 clash at the Nest of Champions Uyo.

Aminu Kadir  goal put Nasarawa United ahead after taking advantage of a loose ball following a goalmouth scramble by Akwa keeper to tap in with seven minutes before half time.

Ojo Olurenleke, ex- Flying Eagles goalkeeper has been in splendid form since joining Akwa United by mid-season from Sunshine Stars but blotted his copybook with a sloppy first half display that resulted in the Nasarawa United goal. Ojo shockingly flapped at a routine freekick he ought to have easily gathered and gave Aminu Kadir an opportunity to tuck away an opportunist strike from the scramble that ensued from the gaffe.
Overall, Ojo did well enough afterwards to earn a pass-mark.

Ubong Friday equalized for the Promise Keepers in the 41st minute when he headed in Ifeanyi Ifeanyi’s corner kick before Christian Pyagbara sealed the victory three minutes into the second half tucking in a rebound after Suraj Ayeleso spilled Cyril Olisema’s close range shot.

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At second half, hostility commenced with firepower as both teams showed signs of determination which resulted in an early attacking play.

The Solid Miners then had two corner kicks in quick succession and would have gone ahead in the 13th minute but Aminu Kadir missed the chance inside the six yard box after a great delivery by Thomas Zenke.

The home side took control of the game and launched series of attacks. However, Friday and Pyagbara could not beat Suraj Ayeleso in Nasarawa United’s goal as the goalkeeper made saves after saves to deny the Promise Keepers more goal tally.

The Maikaba boys especially Vice Captain Ariwa proved their mettle in the game alongside Paterne, Afeez and Ubong in their various department of play.

Paterne, Benin Republic international slotted in perfectly in central defence in the absence of Godspower Igudia and formed a telepathic partnership with Ariwa Emmanuel. Paterne won every aerial duel and read the game well for all of 90 minutes. With this performance, he should give the coaches a selection headache when Igudia returns from suspension.

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It’s becoming impossible for Ariwa to have a bad game for Akwa United. In the absence of regular partner Igudia, Ariwa made it a seamless performance alongside Paterne in his last game before departing for the CHAN Super Eagles camp in far-away kano. With his assured performances, it’s unthinkable to see an Akwa United line-up without this defense stalwart who joined from Niger Tornadoes four seasons ago.

Aremu must have been specially detailed by the coach to keep a keen eye on Thomas Zenke and Abdulrahman Bashir. His special assignment took the shine off his game as all he did was man marking through-out. This task greatly limited his flare and forays upfront but made Nasarawa coach said his team lacked midfield.

Ubong’s headed equalizer barely three minutes after Nasarawa’s opener ensured the visitors were never comfortable @ the Nest of Champions. Aside the goal, he troubled the Nasarawa full backs with great effect, switching wings at will and proving once again that the national selectors were wrong in leaving him out from the CHAN Super Eagles list. The forward’s 7th goal of the season ensured both teams ended the first half 1-1.

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Nasarawa United kick start the second half but lost possession almost immediately. Ubong Friday received a clever pass and locates Newman on the edge of the visitor’s box.

The striker dribbled his way into the box and delivered a delectable pass to Olisema whose shot was spilled by Aleyeso for Pyagbara to tap in from close range to give the Promise Keepers the lead.

What followed was a catalogue of missed chances by Akwa United’s front men as fans watched each miss in disbelief.

Coach Abdu Maikaba replaced Christian Pyagbara and Cyril Olisema with Gabriel Okechukwu and Christopher Lolo while Coach Kabir Dogo introduced Buhari Jaafar, Oussou Antonin and Eugene Obi. The Promise Keepers held on to record their 14th victory of the season and move up to 2nd on the log with 50 points from 30 matches.

Akwa United will next engage Rivers United in Port Harcourt on Wednesday in a rescheduled game. With three away matches on the row, the Akwa Head coach promised fans at press briefing to pick at list 4 points to consolidate continental ticket position.

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