Following Akwa United’s home defeat to Bendel Insurance on matchday 1 of the 2022-23 Nigeria Professional Football League season, Coach Ayodeji Ayeni has admitted that his team lost the game due to some expensive mistakes, but maintained that they would get back on track as soon as possible.

Two first-half goals by Imade Osehenkhoe and Sarki Ismael gave the newly promoted Bendel Insurance a famous victory over 2021 NPFL champions, Akwa United, in a match that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau and the leadership of the Interim Management Committee watched live at the Nest of Champions.

Coach Ayeni in a post-match press conference said, ‘’in the first half we were not coordinated, we were tensed, and my players were nervous and at some point, they were anxious to get things done in a hurry. It’s unfortunate that we made two mistakes and paid dearly for them because the mistakes cost us all three points.

‘’Football is a game of three results; win, lose or draw. Today we lost, and as a coach, it is a painful defeat for me, especially being our first home game of the season. We went into the game with lots of hope and there were lots of expectations, but it ended in favour of the visitors. Losing today is not the end, the most important thing is how we will respond and I believe we will bounce back in a bigger way.

‘’Our second-half performance was very impressive. We controlled the game and created lots of chances but we couldn’t score. Insurance was solid at the back. The goalkeeper (Amas Obasogie) made some excellent saves and we were unable to break them down at the back. In my opinion, it’s a game we should have won, but the only thing we didn’t do right was to get the ball into the back of the net and you can’t win if you don’t score.

Ayeni further added that his confidence in his squad remains intact:

‘’I still have confidence in my players, and having seen this game (against Insurance), we have to go back and work on all noticeable mistakes and ensure we correct them and hope to come back stronger in our next game’’.

Akwa United will next engage Nasarawa United on Saturday, January 14 on matchday 3 in Jos.


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