Occupying 18th place in the Nigeria Premier Football League table with just 15 points from 15 matches is not what Akwa United had hoped for at the beginning of the current campaign, but there is a renewed hope and belief that the team can end the year 2023 with their first away win this season.
The 2021 champions will engage Katsina United at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in what will be their last league match this calendar year and it is expected to be a tough clash and struggle for three points by both teams who recently experienced managerial changes.
The home side are two points and three places above Akwa United. Both teams have met nine times since 2017 with three wins apiece while three of those matches ended in draws. Akwa United have managed two draws against Katsina United at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium but are yet to record Victory at the venue.
Caretaker coach Umar Abdullahi has urged his players to “play with freedom and enjoy their game” while staying committed towards achieving the club’s ambition this season.
Coach Umar who handed speedy winger Iniobong Nsima his NPFL debut in a goalless draw against Sunshine Stars in Eket, has kept faith with the youngster and the coach has also included versatile defender Abdulrasheed Abiodun in his matchday 16 squad, with the believe that the duo will add something special to the team in their quest for the much needed win on Thursday.
The Promise Keepers have endured a difficult start to the season and have found themselves languishing at the wrong end of the table for too long. Despite playing some attractive football goal scoring has been a major challenge facing the team and coach Umar Abdullahi wants his players to be alert to ensure they make the best use of their opportunities in the match.
“It’s been a rough road for us since the beginning of the season but I’m confident that the situation will change here in Katsina. We know what the issue is and we have done our best to address it in our training sessions. Our ball play is good, we always created chances but getting the ball into the back of the net seems to be a challenge.
“When we play well and we don’t score, the boys sometimes play under pressure and with lots of anxiety. That is why I want them to go into this match against Katsina with confidence and to express themselves as professionals while playing with freedom.
“With our style of play, the chances to score are always there, and we have told the boys to always think and make quick decisions while maintaining high level of calmness in moment of execution. The goal drought we have been experiencing will surely come to an end here in Katsina because we are here to give our best, make good use of the opportunities that will come our way as we go for all three points”.
Both teams have scored a combine total of 21 goals and conceded 26 in fifteen matches. Akwa United have scored 11 and conceded 15 goals, five of their goals have come in away games. Katsina United goal scoring form has not been impressive too as they have managed to score 10 goals and conceded 11.
The match is scheduled for Thursday 28 December at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium and kickoff is at four O’clock in the afternoon (4pm). Live updates of the game will be available from three O’clock in the afternoon on all Akwa United social media platforms.