CLUB NEWS

Satisfied from shopping, Maikaba plots title challenge

By Promise Etim

Akwa United followed up their pre-season transfer market activities with the signing of another five players during the mid-season break after finishing fifth on the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) log at the end of the first round of 19 matches.

The intensive overhaul of the squad including hiring of a new manager, Abdu Maikaba which caused pundits to rank the club one of the favourites to finish well in the season especially given the performance of Maikaba in the last three seasons in which he finished consecutively in the top-four with Wikki Tourists.

After a rather poor start to their season which also led to speculations of the coach’s possible sacking, the Promise Keepers moved to please their fans, picking up wins at home, draws on the road and a very impressive win at Kano Pillars.

Maikaba is justifying the addition of five players including Sunshine Stars goalkeeper, Ojo Olorunleke insisting they intend to challenge seriously for the title and at worst, a continental ticket.

The other players coming to Uyo with Olorunleke are Gabriel Okechukwu from Karpaty FC of Ukraine, Akan Edemntang who was elevated from the Akwa United junior team and midfielders Harmony Ikande and Christopher Lolo. Olorunleke's arrival is seen as a direct replacement for Olufemi Kayode who left for Lobi Stars after he lost his place in the first team.

But Maikaba explained the forays in the transfer market was not to replace injured players but to add steel to the club for the challenges ahead.

He told npfl.ng that "at the end of the first round, we noticed few areas in the squad which we needed to strengthen, so we can have a better team that will compete favourably in the second round.

"We did not go into the market, because of injury concerns as reported in some quarters. At the moment, we don't have any injury problem. The basic emphasis was to ensure we have depth in all positions.

"We did not only sign players, but we signed players who can play at least two positions, to give us more options."

Despite the signing of established forward such as Christian Pyagbara from Enyimba and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi from MFM at the start of the season, Akwa United scored 22 goals from 19 matches. Maikaba now looks poised to solve the striking problems with the acquisition of Edemntang from low league side, Akwa Starlets and Okechukwu.

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