Abia Warriors continue unbeaten streak against FC Ifeanyiubah
By Sanipe Damiete
Abia Warriors goalkeeper Uche Okafor was in superlative form as he helped his team to a 1-1 draw against FC Ifeanyiubah in one of the two oriental derbies of Matchday 12 in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) played out at the FC Ifeanyiubah Stadium, Nnewi on Sunday.
Both teams shared the spoils as a brilliant team move by the Anambra Warriors saw four players exchange passes in quick succession in front of the opposition box which resulted in Wasiu Jimoh dribbling his way into the box before squaring into the path of an onrushing Patrick Ikeokwu to pick his spot to slot the ball beyond Okafor for the opener as early as the fifth minute.
The home team were in control most part of the game but a moment of loss of concentration cost them dearly as Obi Samson anticipated and ran unto a headed back pass by Tony Msonter to slot the ball beyond Bamba Drissa for the equalizer in the 66th minute.
Ikeokwu was dominant in the heart of the midfield for the home team as everything went through him as he set up his teammates and made some attempts himself.
He set up Pere Lector in the third minute but the latter’s audacious shot from about 25 yards missed target. Adeboye Gabriel also had an opportunity to double FC Ifeanyiubah’s lead in the 25th minute but he miscued his effort inside the box with the goal at his mercy.
Ikeokwu then made a brilliant run into the box dancing his way past five opposing players but his low cross across the face of goal was timely intercepted by Chinedu Efugh. The first half ended 1-0 in favour of FC Ifeanyiubah.
Abia Warriors came into the second half with a different approach, made some tactical changes as Austine Obaroakpo and Emeka Isaac were replaced by Arinze Nwangwu and Ossy Martins respectively and they took the game to their opponents.
Despite the improved play by the visitors, they could not create anything of note up front as they did not have any attempt at goal but scored from their first attempt at goal when Obi Samson equalized in the 66th minute.
FC Ifeanyiubah pushed forward for the winner but wasted the opportunities when they came their way. Ten minutes from time, Ikeokwu set up substitute John Huan but he fired over the bar from close range.
A minute later, Ikeokwu also set up Daberechi Anyanwu with a through ball but the latter could only see his effort fly way wide of target.
The best chance later presented itself when the referee ruled the ball struck the hand of an Abia Warriors player inside the box and he wasted no time to award a penalty with three minutes of play left.
All eyes were on Victor Onyekachi Chidume as he stepped forward to take the spot kick but watched agonizingly as Okafor guessed correctly, diving to his right to make a big save.
The game ended 1-1 and FC Ifeanyiubah will rue the two points dropped after getting a vital one point away to Rivers United last week.
FC Ifeanyiubah: Bamba Drissa (Okoli Kenneth 70′); Nwenyi Ebuka, Wasiu Jimoh, Chidume Onyekachi, Osia Felix, Msonter Tony, Adeboye Gabriel, Ikeokwu Patrick, Anyanwu Daberechi, Awazie Ekene (Kone Yaya 79′), Lector Pere (Huan John 61′)
Unused Subs: Traore Issif, Suraj Sodiq, Saviour Francis, Ayorinde Samuel
Coach: Ladan Bosso
Abia Warriors: Uche Okafor; Ozor Chinedu, Ubong Williams, Emeka Isaac (Arinze Nwangwu 44′), Austine Obaroakpo (Ossy Martins 52′, Abiodun Adebayo, Chinedu Efugh, Kola Raimi, Ndifreke Effiong, Obi Samson, Yakub Hammed (Kalu Nweke 57′)
Unused Subs: Agbor Ekoi; Ozioma Goodluck, Ayinde Kabiru, Anthony Okemmiri
Coach: Emmmanuel Deutcsh
FC Ifeanyiubah 1-1 Abia Warriors
On target: 4-1
Savior Francis 58′
Austin Obaroakpo 22′
Emeka Isaac 34′
Yakub Hammed 53′
Uche Okafor 82′
Man of the Match: Uche Okafor
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