El-Kanemi pick first away point, add to Kwara United’s woes
By Wale Mustapha
Kwara United and El-Kanemi Warriors played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in Ilorin on Matchday 12 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) encounter at the Kwara State Stadium on Sunday.
The result has further deepened Kwara United’s woes on their return to the top flight.
El-Kanemi took the lead in the 36th minute of the game after Antonio Dasouza beat the offside trap from Ocheme Edoh’s through pass and fired a shot past an outstretched Kwara United keeper Chidiebere Eze.
Kwara United drew level within eight minutes of restart as Anayor Ogbonna was allowed with plenty space in the box and the forward turned around to pick a far angle and buried his effort.
Both sides had more opportunities to get the winner but it was Kwara United who looked better to do so.
The Harmony Boys were left to rue their profligacies in the final third and further stay down the league log.
John Obuh’s men could have taken the lead inside 16 minutes but Stephen Alfred fired wide a rebound effort after El-Kanemi keeper Jobe Modou parried Akeem Onigbari’s delivery to his path.
Aliyu Yakubu volleyed off target another chance for the hosts in the 25th minute as Eze’s service from goal kick rolled to his direction.
Modou continued with his goalkeeping heroics for El-Kanemi in the 33rd minutes as he dived well to save a combined attack from Kwara United’s forwards.
The goal that stung the Harmony Boys like bees hovering all over honey arrived three mimues after when Edoh found Dasouza onside and the latter beat Eze to give El-Kanemi the lead.
Obuh threw in Sunday Odudu in place of Aliyu Yakubu just after Kwara United conceded and the new import made instant impact as his pass to Alfred almost found the back of the net but Modou stood his ground to save.
It did not take long enough for Kwara United to level up the scoreline as the hosts pushed forward in numbers piling more pressure on El-Kanemi.
Odudu did well to outmuscle his markers before picking out Ogbonna in the box with his pass. The forward was allowed to turn and create space before slotting the ball past Modou.
Michael Ohanu who came in at the restart almost shot Kwara United ahead but his effort from Bitrus’ pass hit the side of the net.
Obuh’s men regained momentum and dictated the proceedings as they sought for the winner but El-Kanemi’s defence with Modou in goal – coupled with mistimed run by Kwara United strikers – thwarted their chances.
The hosts even thought they had won a penalty in the 74th minute when Odudu went down in the box but the ref waved for play to continue.
Despite seven minutes added as injury time, Kwara United weren’t allowed into El-Kanemi box till the referee brought the game to an end.
A disappointing Kwara United head coach Obuh whose further now hangs in the balance.
El-Kanemi head coach Imama Amakapabo commended his boys from their performance even as he expected to leave Ilorin with full points.
The Nigeria U23 assistant coach noted that the result may have signalled his side’s turnaround in the season despite their struggles.
“In the first half, we were able to control their attack and in the process we got a goal. During the second half I wasn’t impressed with our performance in the oppening 15-20 minutes because I wanted the boys to stamp an authority on the game but unfortunately we conceded after a brilliant work from one of their substitutes who had abundance of pace to trouble our defence,” Amakapabo said.
“Overall it was an interesting game because they played a lot of long balls into our defence which we were able to deal with.
“I would have been happier with the three points because we’ve dropped points at home already this season but this may be the turning point for us.”
Kwara United’s next game is away to Plateau United while El-Kanemi Warriors will be playing host to FC Ifeanyiubah on Matchday 13.
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