Nigeria Professional Football League Group B leaders Akwa United of Uyo produced a Three-Star performance to record an emphatic 3-0 victory over former champions Kano Pillars on matchday 15 of the NPFL in Uyo to maintain their leadership position on the log.
Striker Ndifreke Effiong gave the Promise Keepers the lead in the first half before midfelider Emmanuel Charles and defender Kodjovi Dadzie scored in the second half to secure their team’s 8th win of the season.
Caoch Rafael Everton made five changes to the team that defeated Gombe United in week 14; Etim Mathew, Wilson Elu, and Kodjovi Dadzie replaced Etboy Akpan, Blaise Adou and Juwon Oshaniwa in the defence. While Marshal Johnson and Alberico Da Silva were preferred to Chigozie Chilekwu and Christopher Lolo in the midfield.
Coach Rafael Everton’s tutored side announced their intentions early into the game and controlled proceedings. Pillars goalkeeper Idris Ibrahim made brilliant saves to deny Ndifreke Effiong, Alberico Da Silva and Aniefiok Godspower.
The early pressure paid off in the 17th minute when Kodjovi Dadzie was fouled outside the visitors box. Ndifreke Effiong stepped up and put his team in front with a beautifully taken free kick which left goalkeeper Idris Ibrahim with no chance. It was the striker’s 6th goal of the season.
United had four clear chances to increase their advantage but failed to convert them. In the 30th minute, Emmanuel Charles was presented with a golden opportunity to score after a smooth run by Cyril Olisema but the youngster spooned his effort.
Brazilian midfielder Alberico Da Silva headed Kodjovi Dadzie’s pin-point cross over the bar despite being unmarked in the box. Ndifreke Effiong fired his attempt across the face of goal from another Dadzie’s cross in the 37th minute.
At the other end, Cameroonian goalkeeper Jean Efala who was Awarded Akwa United Player of the Month of February before kickoff, made a fantastic save when he tipped Rabiu Ali’s spectacular volley over the top as the Promise Keepers ended the first half with a deserved 1-0 lead.
United restart the second half with great intensity and pushed the visitors back into their own half. In the 48th, Pillars goalkeeper Idris Ibrahim made a superb save to deny Aniefiok Godspower. But moments later, youngster Emmanuel Charles headed in Aniefiok Godspower’s corner kick to double his team’s advantage, with his second goal of the season.
Kano Pillars had two good chances to reduce the deficit in the 65th minute when David Ebuka found space and was one-on-one with Efala but Etim Mathew and Wilson Elu recovered in time to block the effort out for a corner kick. A neat interchange between Rabiu Ali and Bature Yaro, fell on the path of Hillary Paul who freed Ebuka whose effort narrowly missed the target.
In a tactical switch, Coach Everton introduced Wisdom Fernando, Aniekeme Asuquo and Chigozie Chilekwu into the game and they added more bite to their team’s attack. Ndifreke Effiong who has a good game saw his well struck free kick scrambled to the post by Idris Ibrahim who was the busiest of the two goalkeepers. Effiong who could have scored more was further frustrated when his attempt went up from six yards after a good work by Wisdom Fernando from the right.
In the 90th minute, Togolese defender Kodjovi Dadzie put the game beyond the visitors when he headed in Chigozie Chilekwu’s well taken corner to seal a resounding victory for the Two-Time Federation Cup Champions who remain on top of the NPFL Group B table with 28 points from 15 games, same as El-Kanemi Warriors but the Promise Keepers stay top courtesy of superior goal difference.
Speaking after the game, Caoch Rafael Everton said he was satisfied with his team’s performance.
“It was a good match for us. I’m very happy with this result. We played well and scored good goals so we want to build on this result going into the last rounds of matches. We played against a very good team, Kano Pillars but I think we needed the game more”
Akwa United will next travel to Jos for a date with Plateau United on Matchday 16 this weekend.