MFM seek response after home loss in CAF Confederation Cup

By Idowu Bakare

MFM FC will look to bounce back from their CAF Confederation Cup defeat to Djoliba AC of Mali when they welcome Nasarawa United to the Agege Stadium in a rescheduled Matchday 16 fixture on Thursday.

The Olukoya Boys missed out on the opportunity to take a giant step into the CAF Confederation Cup group stage on Sunday losing 1-0 at home to Djoliba.

Key attackers Sikiru Olatunbosun, Jesse Akila and Waheed Adebayo did not play the game as they were not registered and without the attacking trio, MFM created few chances and could not take any advantage of playing in front of their supportive fans.

Just how much psychological damage that may have done remains to be seen, but MFM head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu admits he will learn much about his team from their reaction.

“We need a positive response. Losing to Djoliba was a bad result but we have to pick ourselves up and remain positive for upcoming games,” Ilechukwu stated.

Ilechukwu’s troops have been unable to completely smother opponents this season, and the Solid Miners’ raw athleticism and ability on the counter means they will still be a threat, even without a lot of possession.

And striker Ikechukwu Williams Nwani, who has scored two goals and created two assists in his first season in the league feels the Solid Miners can condemn MFM to their second consecutive home defeat.

“It’s all about the three points and we’re fully prepared for this game,” Nwani stated.

“MFM just played a continental game and they might be a bit fatigued, so we can capitalise on that and pull a surprise. You never can tell as this is football.”

MFM and Nasarawa United currently sit level on 19 points apiece in 15th and 14th positions respectively – with MFM playing two games less.

Both teams are currently nowhere near league leaders, Lobi Stars, but the race for a continental slot is still a close one – as just four points separate them from fourth-placed Katsina United.

TEAM NEWS

Ilechukwu is expected to make a couple of changes in attack – as Olatunbosun, Waheed and Akila are expected to return to the matchday squad.

Meanwhile, Nasarawa United defender Seun Sogbeso is in line for his first start, having missed five straight games.

KEY PLAYERS

CHIJIOKE AKUNETO (MFM): Akuneto was the hero as MFM came from a goal down to beat Katsina United 2-1 in their last home game in the league. The attacker is at ease from set pieces, prefers to key in from the middle and is gradually fighting his way into MFM’s first-team setup.

NAJEEM OLUKOKUN (NASARAWA UNITED): The forward put up a classy show in the 2-1 win over Katsina United at the weekend to take his league goals to five. Olukokun’s strength revolves around his athleticism and physique and could cause havoc on MFM will be right up his alley.

HEAD TO HEAD
03/09/17: MFM 2-0 Nasarawa United
02/04/17: Nasarawa United 4-0 MFM
08/06/16: MFM 2-0 Nasarawa United
21/02/16: Nasarawa United 1-2 MFM