- Published on Sunday, 30 April 2017 20:19
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Adamu Hassan’s diligently–placed 16th minute shot, off a brilliant pass from Thomas Zenke, won all three points for Nasarawa United and took them to ninth position from 12th at the end of their rescheduled Matchday 19 clash with Rivers United in Lafia. Nasarawa United won 1-0.
The pre–match previews had concentrated on the ‘home–coming’ of former Nasarawa United stalwarts Ifeanyi Nweke and Esosa Igbinoba who had since pitched tent with the ‘Pride of Rivers.’ They were expected to set fireworks on the city from which they made their names. But neither player lit up the evening inside the Lafia City Stadium.
Instead, Nweke went into referee Olayinka Olajide’s book as early as the sixth minute, for a foul on Rabiu Shehu, and although Antonin Oussou missed a golden opportunity to put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute with only the goalkeeper to beat, Hassan turned up at the right place to connect a sterling Thomas Zenke pass nine minutes later.
The ‘Pride of Rivers’ disappointed in more ways than one, failing to lift their game and allowing the ‘Solid Miners’ to create so many chances, which Oussou, Abdulrahman Bashir and Douglas Achiv contrived to fluff one after the other.
Heartened by the recent acquisition of former NPFL top scorer Sibi Gwar (who was based in Malta) and former Enugu Rangers’ ace Ocheme Edoh (both players were at the stadium), Nasarawa United’s faithful cheered their team on even as they agonized after every missed opportunity.
For coming out of Lafia with a chunk of their esteem still intact, Nigeria’s only remaining team in continental competition this year have veteran goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi to be grateful for. Even when Oussou thought he had headed past the veteran just before the interval, Rotimi managed to palm the ball over the bar.
In the second half, the Port Harcourt team steered from their slumber now and again, but Yusuf Jaiyeola, Bolaji Sakin, Nzube Anaezemba and Zoumana Doumbia could not muster the strength and savvy to get past the Miners’ rear, marshalled by Jide Williams, Seun Sogbeso, Yinka Onaolapo and Rabiu Shehu.
Defeat means Rivers United drop into the relegation waters ahead of their next outstanding game against Remo Stars at home on Wednesday.
Kabiru Suleiman Dogo (Head coach, Nasarawa United): "We are very happy to win and pick up the three points, despite being on break for about two weeks now, and against a team that has been very active and playing in the continent. Our plan since the beginning of the season has been to finish among the top five teams at the end of the season. Now, we are in 9th place and we will work very hard in the second stanza of the season to achieve our goal."
Stanley Eguma (Head coach, Rivers United): "I am unhappy that we lost, because we put up a good fight. We had our chances but we were unlucky. My boys are suffering from fatigue, from playing in the CAF Confederation Cup and then playing Katsina United three days ago. It is not an excuse though as we worked towards winning this game. Now, we must work even harder in order to keep our esteem in the second round of the season."
Festus Austine (Captain, Rivers United): "This defeat is very painful. There is fatigue as the Coach has mentioned, but the truth is we worked very hard and planned to win this match. Now that it is gone, we must look forward to the second round of the season with determination in order to make our fans happy."
Thomas Zenke (Man of The Match): "I am very happy to emerge Man of The Match today. It is a big honour. I put up a good effort, but I will praise my team -mates as well because we were all committed and we worked hard. The coming of Sibi Gwar and Ocheme Edoh will no doubt help our team; they are tested players and they will bring positive vibes to Nasarawa United."
Man Of The Match: Thomas Zenke (Nasarawa United)
Nasarawa United 1-0 Rivers United
Free Kicks: 18-20
Corner Kicks: 6-3
Yellow Cards: Ifeanyi Nweke 6’, Yusuf Jaiyeola 43’, Obomate Frederick 79’ (Rivers United); Yinka Onaolapo 48’ (Nasarawa United)
ATTENDANCE: Approximately 2,500
Photo Gallery : Football Action
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