NWAGUA, ALI STRIKE LATE TO DOWN AKWA UTD IN KANO
Kano Pillars’ Nyima Nwagua and Rabiu Ali scored inside the last ten minutes of the game to secure all three points for their side over Akwa United on matchday 16 of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League at the Sani Abacha Stadium on Sunday.
Nwagua dived low to head in the opener following a defensive mix-up and three minutes later, Rabiu Ali curled in a spectacular free-kick to put the game beyond the Promise Keepers who were looking to bounce back from their home defeat to Kwara United in mid-week.
Akwa United went into the game separated by six points and six places above their opponents. They needed to avoid defeat in order to improve their standing on the log but it was Pillars who dominated play albeit on a cold and windy Sani Abacha Stadium.
The home side announced their intentions early into the game and created some good scoring chances but Akwa United’s Cameroonian goalkeeper Jean Efala was at his best to deny the home side.
The Promise Keepers managed two attempts at goal in the first half. Ndifreke Effiong’s free-kick after a foul on Michael Ohanu, outside Pillar’s box was comfortably saved by Ayeleso. Moments later, Emmanuel Charles’ header was blocked by Sunday Chinedu.
Coach Boboye replaced Etboy Akpan with Dare Ojo in the second half but it was the home side who stepped up their game and piled more pressure on Akwa United who rarely threatened their hosts.
In a tactical change, young striker Christian Ekong was introduced in place of midfielder Emmanuel Charles, as coach Boboye’s men switched to playing counter attacking football.
Just when Akwa United thought they will be returning to Uyo with a point, Nyima Nwagua benefitted from a defensive mix-up to head home from close range. As coach Boboye’s men pushed for the equalizer, Pillars hit on the counter and Nwagua was fouled on the edge of the box. Pillars captain Rabiu Ali curled it over the wall and into the top left corner to double his team’s advantage.
The result which was Akwa United’s second defeat in eight NPFL matches under coach Boboye, left them in 7th place with 23 points from 16 games, it moved Pillars to 12th position with 20 points from 15 games and with one outstanding match.
Akwa United will return to Uyo to face Heartland of Owerri on Matchday 17 on Sunday 26th January, 2020.